The federal probe into a 2010 land deal orchestrated by former Burlington College president Jane Sanders, wife of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has deepened. VTDigger has confirmed that a grand jury has compelled sworn witness testimony in the case.
The Vermont U.S. Attorney’s office has interviewed at least one witness before the grand jury to determine whether indictments should be handed down.
Former Burlington College board member Robin Lloyd says she testified for about an hour on Oct. 26 before a grand jury at the federal courthouse in Burlington.
Paul Van de Graaf, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. attorney’s office in Vermont, questioned Lloyd about her role as the development chair of the college’s board of trustees during a period when Sanders was collecting donations and pledges for the purchase of a $10 million city lakefront property.
Lloyd, who is publisher of the progressive website Toward Freedom, kept copious board meeting minutes as the development chair for the college. In the interview with Van de Graaf, Lloyd said he “was focused on what I knew about who had been approached for contributions.”
“I helped provide a timeline of what happened — and when — in terms of development,” Lloyd said. “It was general questions about donors, and money coming in.”
Jane and Bernie Sanders have vehemently denied any impropriety surrounding the land deal.
Jeff Weaver, a spokesman for the Sanders and former campaign manager, told Seven Days Sunday night, “We have absolutely no reason to believe that there is a grand jury empaneled to examine Burlington College, Jane Sanders, or any aspect of Dr. Sanders’ service as president of Burlington College. As best we can tell, the current news reports are simply recycling an account of a government interview of a witness from several months ago. Nothing new here.”
Lloyd’s appearance is the first public confirmation that the federal government has compelled a grand jury.