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Inas president and would-be savior of Burlington College — a tiny alternative school without a campus in this small offbeat city — Ms. Sanders championed a deal to buy a waterfront spread from the local Roman Catholic diocese. Within a year, she was ousted, and the college limped toward obsolescence, buried under debt. A local Republican grandee financed a commercial in attacking Ms.

Finally, the top Trump campaign official in Vermont filed a complaint, leading to a federal inquiry that examined whether Ms. Sanders had inflated donor commitments to secure a bank loan for the property, and whether her husband had pressured the bank to make the loan. Today, Mr. Sanders is among the front-runners challenging President Trump, and Jane Sanders is — as she long has been — his closest political adviser and confidante. A sprawling housing development is now rising on the lakeside land.

But questions about the Burlington College deal live on. Federal prosecutors have not spoken publicly about their investigation, though late last year, Ms. And while doubts remain about the contribution pledges claimed by the college, the lawyer has said that neither Ms.

Sanders nor her husband was even questioned by investigators, indicating a lack of ificant evidence of a crime.

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After Ms. It abandoned a promising effort she had undertaken to sell some of its new land to improve its finances, interviews show. A few years later, when it did begin selling, it was to a consortium that secretly included at least one member of its board, raising conflict-of-interest questions. But with potential students put off by the lack of a campus, and with many such colleges struggling at the time, her move was the academic equivalent of a Hail Mary. Her allies said she never had a chance to fulfill her vision.

In interviews and s, Ms. It was very confusing and upsetting at the time. Others remain dubious. At the time of the deal, the college had a student body of only about and scant financial resources. Jane and Bernie Sanders were long on parallel tracks. They grew up 15 blocks apart in Brooklyn and separately made their way to Vermont. The couple, who had three children, separated not long after. She and Mr. Sanders shared an activist sensibility. She camped out at Woodstock and protested the Vietnam War. Burlington fit their personalities. For her husband — they married in — she became an indispensable intellectual partner.

She volunteered on his campaigns, ran his youth office when he was mayor and served as his congressional chief of staff, writing dozens of bills and amendments. She also encouraged her husband to soften his position on marijuana legalization and helped prepare him for debates in the election.

She also had her own priorities.

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She dropped out of the University of Tennessee in but earned a degree from Goddard College, another experimental Vermont institution that has faced financial woes. When Burlington College hired her init needed a turnaround artist. But there were controversies, as when the college embarked on a partnership to provide students for a fledgling woodworking school founded in part by Ms. After a few years on the job, Ms. Sanders pounced on an opportunity to buy a acre property owned by the local diocese, which was struggling amid the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Sanders did not make the decision alone. Charly Dickerson, a member of the finance agency at the time, voted against the deal. Some, however, said the college needed a bold plan. Nationwide, small colleges have been under financial strain as enrollment lags climbing costs. Applicants would grow ificantly, Ms. Sanders believed, if Burlington College acquired a showplace campus.

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She courted donors whose pledges could help secure the loan. David Dunn, a college trustee at the time, said the board had concerns by that contributions were not materializing.

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Dunn, who later learned that his own initials were listed among trustees having pledged donations, which he said he had not done. Dunn said additional factors also led to Ms. The student played down the argument in a letter to the board that was reviewed by The Times. Three years after her departure, ina local Republican donor and gas station operator named Rodolphe M.

Vallee, who goes by Skip, financed a commercial attacking Ms. Vallee and Mr. Sanders were already engaged in a long-running dispute over fuel pricing that continues to this day. Toensing works at a Washington law firm founded by his mother, Victoria Toensing, and stepfather, Joseph diGenovaoutspoken defenders of Mr. Trump, and has long talked up the Burlington College controversy.

When the topic came up in a television interviewMr. Sanders bristled. Investigators subpoenaed records, interviewed donors, trustees, bankers and faculty members, according to several people who were questioned. At the time of her dismissal, Ms. Sanders was in talks with Frank Cioffi, president of the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, who was wooing a company interested in moving to town. When the college did sell off some of the land instudents and faculty members were concerned that real estate developers had too much sway with the board.

Indeed, one of the trustees, Joel Miller, was quietly part of the consortium that bought the land. The news surprised Yves Bradley, a commercial realtor who was the last board chairman. After the college announced its closing instudents staged a mock funeral, carrying a coffin through the city. Others had a dimmer view.

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Only a few months after the college closed in summerMs. She had envisioned the new campus as a cultural and educational center for the city, and as an extension of her activism. Sanders said. We would have lectures, all open, and conferences, all open to the community at large, as well as our students, because that was what we were preparing them for — the world at large.

Then the story of the failing college turned into a political storm. The bank and the consultant declined to comment. Today, opinions vary on Ms. Sanders among alumni.

Burlington vermont wife.

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Jane Sanders and the Messy Demise of a Vermont College