Burlington College

Nepotism Accusations Might End Bernie Sanders' 2020 Ambitions...

His wife gave half-a-million to their daughter's school.


Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders may be a socialist, but he does enjoy the spoils of capitalism. Though he claims he does not get support from the “big corporations,” he had no problem posing to give Ben and Jerry’s ice cream free advertisement as payback for supporting his failed 2016 presidential election.

The hypocrisy appears to be a family matter. Former staff members of the now defunct Burlington College is accusing Bernie Sanders’ wife of nepotism when she was the president of the school.

VTDigger reports,

While one deal struck by Jane O’Meara Sanders during her time as Burlington College’s president has triggered a federal investigation, another arrangement she engineered is breeding claims of nepotism and allegations of veiled threats against her husband’s presidential campaign.

The bad blood centers on the relationship the college forged with the Vermont Woodworking School, co-founded and run by Sanders’ daughter, Carina Driscoll.

Former staffers put much of the blame of Sanders for the closure.

Carol Moore, the final president at Burlington College, broadly blames the school’s 2016 closing on Sanders. In a scathing op-ed last year, Moore wrote: “BC’s fate was set when its former board members hired an inexperienced president.”

That president, Jane Sanders, the wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., led Burlington College from 2004 to 2011. Previously she served as acting president of Goddard College in Plainfield, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in social work. (Sanders also holds a PhD from Union Institute.)

Sanders convinced the board to take a deal to purchase some land for an expansion. That did not go well for the school.

Moore and others say a land deal Jane Sanders championed in 2010 caused Burlington College’s closure last year. The school had purchased a 33-acre waterfront parcel from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington for $10 million with hopes of greatly expanding the small, alternative liberal arts college.

“Enrollment that year was about 195 and the budget just over $4 million, less than half of this ill-advised investment,” Moore wrote in the Chronicle of Higher Education. “What were they thinking?”

Sanders wife may have misrepresented the deal to the school’s staff and board. That could prove problematic for her socialist husband as law enforcement may have something to say about that.

That deal is under scrutiny by federal authorities, who are examining whether Jane Sanders accurately represented donations to the college used as collateral to back the bank loan.

This is not the only deal Mrs. Sanders struck that is under scrutiny. She gave her daughter's school over a half a million dollars. 

Moore is equally critical of a deal Jane Sanders brokered between the college and Driscoll’s Vermont Woodworking School, a facility in Franklin County where Burlington College students took courses.

In interviews with VTDigger, Moore said the college got the short end of the stick.

“This was a sweetheart deal for Carina Driscoll, Jane Sanders’ daughter,” said Moore. Driscoll is the stepdaughter of Bernie Sanders.

The deal with the woodworking school was never formally brought up. There was a “verbal” agreement with no contract.

Students began attending the woodworking school in 2009 on what appears to have been a handshake deal. A formalized contract was made only under Jane Sanders’ successor as president, Christine Plunkett. The lack of a written agreement raised questions from the college’s accrediting body, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, or NEASC.

According to publicly available tax documents, the Vermont Woodworking School received more than $500,000 between 2009 and 2012 for “materials charges and lease of bench space” for Burlington College students who took furniture-making and woodworking design courses in a restored red barn in Fairfax.

Driscoll is deny all allegations of nepotism and suggested that Moore is to blame for the college’s shut down despite the fact that her mother was pressured to resign following the land purchase.

The investigation into Bernie Sanders’ wife is playing a part in determining whether he runs for the White House again in 2020.