The Burlington College closure has a chance of causing trouble for the Bernie Sanders campaign, since his wife Jane played a key role in sinking the college under a mountain of debt. There are whispers of a federal probe, and now Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck reports that VTGOP Vice Chair Brady Toensing claims to have “new information” linking Senator Sanders to the case.
“I was recently approached and informed that Senator Bernie Sanders’ office improperly pressured People’s United Bank to approve the loan application,” Toensing said in letters to U.S. Attorney Eric Miller and to Fred Gibson Jr., the acting inspector general of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.
There is cause for skepticism aplenty; Toensing is a Republican official, and he refuses to say anything more about his sources or his new information.
But there’s one more thing you should know, and Hallenbeck didn’t catch it.
Toensing’s letters were written on the stationery of DiGenova and Toensing, a Washington, D.C.-based law firm. Toensing is a partner in the firm, which is headed by his mother Victoria Toensing and his stepfather Joseph DiGenova.
Which is important to know because those two worthies are notorious conservative scandal-mongers. Here’s something I wrote back in 2013, when Brady Toensing offered his legal services to Jerry Dodge in that ill-fated East Montpelier land deal.
…suffice it to say that Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova spent the 1990s as part of the anti-Clinton Republican attack machine, and the 2000s as leading Bush Administration apologists on cable news. Most recently, Ma ‘n Pa have been trying to mountainize the Benghazi molehill on Fox News.
Just bear that in mind when you ponder the significance of Toensing’s pursuit of a Bernie scandal. He hasn’t personally dipped into the pool of conservative sleaze that his senior partners happily cavort in; but the complaint was issued from one of D.C.’s most notorious hives of scum and villainy.
I think there are lots of unanswered questions about Burlington College and Jane O’Meara Sanders’ culpability in its demise. And considering how closely Jane and Bernie collaborate on his presidential campaign, I wouldn’t put it past him to use his influence on her behalf when she was trying to pull off a multi-million-dollar land deal.
Still, presumption of innocence, and generally speaking Bernie doesn’t seem like a guy to take up residence in the ethical gray zone. In any case, just a fair warning that you shouldn’t believe a word that comes out of DiGenova and Toensing unless there is independent evidence.