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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 3:07 pm 
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The idea of a severance package does not generally concern me.
High level executives generally have such severance packages written into their employment contracts.
And severance packages paid due to changes in management, layoffs, etc also do not generally concern me.
In this case, Madame Sanders leveraged the college into insolvency, might have misrepresented borrower donations for the college to obtain that financing, and also may have misled university officials, contributors, etc., also in the process. There is incompetence, and then their is intentional deceit, which it appears may have been the case in Madame Sanders' actions (of course one is presumed innocent until shown otherwise).

The circumstances around this should be investigated and if criminal or civil wrongdoing is discovered, then she should be prosecuted, and they should try to clawback that $200,000 severance package.

Receiving a $200,000 severance package for running a university into insolvency (and possibly breaking laws or violating university policy) was where my concern comes from, and was why I emphasized that particular line.


There are two possibilities : One is running a university into insolvency as a result of incompetence, and the other is doing it as a result of fraud. So, I assume the "civil wrongdoing" concern of yours apply in the case of incompetence.
Are you saying that in both case we should try to prosecute her and get back the $200,000? Because if you do say this, then the next question is if we should do the same for all these CEOs who ran the whole world into insolvency and got away with #2,000,000 severance package. If you say this, we will agree ;)

By the way, do you think there was not a case of at least "civil wrongdoing" when bankers were selling toxic derivatives to clients and to each other or when they were betting against those derivatives massive amounts of money? Or when real estate agents were selling "No Income No Job" (the so called NINJA) loans making huge amounts of money ?

Going one step farther, should we change the contract law, so that it is illegal to have incompetent employees getting huge severance packages? Or should we not intervene and let the "markets" and consumers regulate themselves?

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 3:56 pm 
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My response to your last post will be short Pamak.

I just got home after being away for a while to discover my telephone, Internet and tv service is out and the earliest they can send a tech out to look at it is Friday. (Fucking Frontier Communications).

If what she did was criminal (misrepresenting donor donations, doctoring financial numbers, etc, then that to me sounds criminal and she should be prosecuted under federal law for loan fraud.
She $200,000 clawback of ther severance is not the only repercussion that she should face.

As for your second paragraph, if what those bankers and others did rise to the level of criminal charges, then yes, prosecution should have been done. Talk to the Obama Justice Department as to why that never happened. The statute of limitations is probably up by now for most of those potential incidents.

And as to your last paragraph, it's probably not a matter of "contract law" rather contract terms and negotiations. The parties entering into the employment contract should have a clause in it that severance packages are reduced or forfeit if the employee dismissal is due to incompetence. I doubt that the laws would need to be changed to accomplish that. But I'm not an attorney, so my understanding of that may be incorrect.

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 4:28 pm 
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The parties entering into the employment contract should have a clause in it that severance packages are reduced or forfeit if the employee dismissal is due to incompetence. I doubt that the laws would need to be changed to accomplish that. But I'm not an attorney, so my understanding of that may be incorrect.


You doubt? Then why do not the parties in the contract have established a practice to include clauses regarding the forfeiture of severance packages in case of incompetence? It is obvious that what you think that the parties "should" do when they negotiate contracts, they do not do it in practice. I guess a big reason for this is because CEOs negotiate about how to distribute in salaries and severance packages other people's money.Perhaps you are not an attorney, but you are a citizen who votes and can affect legislation regarding this practice. So, you should make some decisions regarding your political stance on this issue. I hope you fix the computer problems soon. I won't be away, so you can respond whenever it is convenient.

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 5:05 pm 
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Well, yes. And the other problem is that CEO/CFO/Board of Director positions are a closed loop circle jerk society. Since they all have cush severance packages that apply when they're ousted for lack of competence, few if any of them are going to embrace a precedent that might increase the risk to their own severance packages.

I've always said that the USA offshores the wrong sorts of jobs. We could offshore the CEO positions and CFO positions to some Mumbai MBA and pay then $100K per year, and get far more competent corporate leadership by any measure than the people in charge of most of the long-established F500 corporations.

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2016 10:18 pm 
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Are you saying that in both case we should try to prosecute her and get back the $200,000? Because if you do say this, then the next question is if we should do the same for all these CEOs who ran the whole world into insolvency and got away with #2,000,000 severance package. If you say this, we will agree ;)

By the way, do you think there was not a case of at least "civil wrongdoing" when bankers were selling toxic derivatives to clients and to each other or when they were betting against those derivatives massive amounts of money? Or when real estate agents were selling "No Income No Job" (the so called NINJA) loans making huge amounts of money ?


Never happen. those people were democrats



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamie_Gorelick

Quote:
Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae)[edit]
Even though she had no previous training nor experience in finance, Gorelick was appointed Vice Chairman of Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae) from 1997 to 2003. She served alongside former Clinton Administration official Franklin Raines.[7] During that period, Fannie Mae developed a $10 billion accounting scandal.[8]
On March 25, 2002, Business Week interviewed Gorelick about the health of Fannie Mae. Gorelick is quoted as saying, "We believe we are managed safely. We are very pleased that Moody's gave us an A-minus in the area of bank financial strength – without a reference to the government in any way. Fannie Mae is among the handful of top-quality institutions."[9] One year later, Government Regulators "accused Fannie Mae of improper accounting to the tune of $9 billion in unrecorded losses".[10]
In an additional scandal concerning falsified financial transactions that helped the company meet earnings targets for 1998, a "manipulation" that triggered multimillion-dollar bonuses for top executives,[11] Gorelick received $779,625.
A 2006 report of an investigation by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight into Fannie Mae's accounting practices and corporate governance revealed that from 1998 to 2002 Gorelick received a total of $26,466,834.00 in income.[12]

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 11:58 am 
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https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/fed ... id=5480049

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Feds in Florida: Burlington College Probe Goes the Distance

By PAUL HEINTZ @PAULHEINTZ

Ron Leavitt was driving from a master gardener class to his Naples, Fla., home three months ago when he received a surprising call from his wife.

"She said, 'The FBI is here to talk to you about Burlington College,'" he recalled. "'When are you going to be home?'"

The semiretired orthopedic surgeon had moved from Vermont to Florida five years earlier, but his association with the shuttered liberal arts college — and the wife of a United States senator who served as its president — had followed him to the Sunshine State. When he returned home to his gated community later that afternoon, Leavitt found two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents waiting for him with plenty of questions about a $30,000 donation he had made to the school.

"It was a little strange," he said of the unexpected visit.

Leavitt is one of five people formerly associated with Burlington College who have confirmed to Seven Days that they were contacted, interviewed and, in some cases, subpoenaed by federal authorities over the past 15 months. While much about the inquiry remains shrouded in mystery, documents and interviews suggest that it is a serious criminal investigation focused on a $6.5 million bank loan application the college made in 2010 to pay for a $10 million lakeside campus.

The woman who signed that application? Former Burlington College president Jane O'Meara Sanders, the wife of 2016 presidential candidate and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

The investigation appears to stem from a January 2016 complaint filed by Vermont Republican Party vice chair Brady Toensing on behalf of Catholic parishioner Wendy Wilton, a conservative activist and Rutland City treasurer. Toensing alleged that O'Meara Sanders committed federal loan fraud by inflating the number of fundraising commitments she had secured to buy the 32-acre North Avenue campus from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. When those donations failed to materialize, the college defaulted on its loans — costing the church, which financed a portion of the sale, between $1.6 million and $2 million.

Neither the FBI nor the U.S. attorney for the District of Vermont would comment on the matter. But according to Carol Moore, who served as the college's final president until it closed last May, an FBI agent who contacted her "three or four weeks ago" called it "an ongoing investigation."

Moore said the focus of the feds' questions was clear: "Was there any collusion between Jane Sanders and the bank?" Moore said, quoting the FBI agent. "Did she falsify records in order to get the loan from the bank?"

Moore said the focus of the feds' questions was clear: Did [Jane O'Meara Sanders] falsify records in order to get the loan from the bank?
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O'Meara Sanders and her husband's Senate staff have largely ignored questions from the press about her tenure at Burlington College, which began in 2004 and ended with her ouster in 2011. But in an unusual statement issued Monday through the digital services firm Revolution Messaging, former Sanders presidential campaign manager Jeff Weaver noted that Republican operatives were behind the request for an investigation.

"Jane has not been contacted by the FBI or any other authority and only knows as much as news reports indicate," Weaver said in the statement, which noted that he was "speaking for the Sanders family."

The investigation appears to be serious enough that authorities have issued federal grand jury subpoenas to procure documents. Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency executive director Robert Giroux, whose state agency issued tax-exempt bonds to cover Burlington College's $6.5 million loan, clammed up when asked about the situation Monday.

"I can't make a comment on that right now," he said, explaining that his attorneys had reached out to federal authorities for guidance about what he could say. "That's typical when you have a grand jury proceeding."

Other institutions and individuals involved responded similarly. Spokespeople for the diocese and People's United Bank, which provided the loan, declined to comment, as did Adam Dantzcher, who chaired the college's board of trustees during O'Meara Sanders' presidency. Christine Plunkett, who served as O'Meara Sanders' chief financial officer and succeeded her as president, declined comment on Monday and then hung up on Seven Days.

Not everyone has kept quiet. Former board member Sara Adsit-McCuin told the paper last week that the FBI had contacted her "a couple of weeks ago" and interviewed her in person.

Rumors of a federal probe have circulated in Burlington for more than a year. When the college announced in May 2016 that it would close due to the "crushing weight of the debt" incurred by O'Meara Sanders, reporters asked Moore at a press conference whether the feds were investigating. She twice declined to answer the question.

But new documents obtained by VTDigger.org last week show that, as late as February 2017, there was an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice investigation — and it involved one of the top federal prosecutors in the state: Paul Van de Graaf, criminal chief of Vermont's U.S. Attorney's Office.

In a December 2016 email to a state Agency of Education lawyer about Burlington College records that the state had in storage, Van de Graaf wrote, "I think we need to make sure that there is nothing significant to our federal investigation before [the records] are destroyed." In February 2017, the AOE attorney, Molly Bachman, informed Van de Graaf, "FBI Special agent Patrick Hanna asked for another month to review records at the AOE. That is fine."

It was hardly the feds' first crack at those documents. According to Coralee Holm, the college's former dean of operations and advancement, the FBI subpoenaed the institution a year earlier, in February 2016, and interviewed Holm on campus at least four times over the next several months.

"I cooperated with their request, which was to provide any documentation that pertained to the purchase of the new property as it related to fundraising for that property," she said.




Continued below due to length

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 11:59 am 
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Holm said she turned over a filing cabinet and three or four banker boxes filled with donor files, along with emails she found in accounts that belonged to O'Meara Sanders and Plunkett. She said the FBI provided her with a hard drive on which to transfer the electronic documents.

Despite her best efforts, Holm said, she was "unsuccessful in locating documentation of the gifts and pledges" the FBI was seeking. Asked whether she had stumbled upon anything noteworthy in O'Meara Sanders' emails, the former dean said, "I prefer not to comment on that."

The crux of Toensing's 2016 complaint was that, in order to secure the $6.5 million loan, O'Meara Sanders "successfully and intentionally engaged in a fraudulent scheme to actively conceal and misrepresent material facts from a federal financial institution." Though O'Meara Sanders certified that Burlington College had locked down $2.6 million in future gifts and grants, the school realized only $676,000 of that over the next four years, according to audits.

As Seven Days reported in June 2015, O'Meara Sanders wrote in her 2010 VEHBFA loan application that "one gift of $1-million has been committed and another $1-million has been verbally pledged." In August 2014, Plunkett told WCAX-TV that she had learned after taking the reins at Burlington College that the $1 million gift was actually a bequest — and therefore not immediately available.

"The understanding at the time was that it was a cash gift, and we proceeded until we understood it was a bequest," Plunkett told the station.

Accompanying the loan application was a spreadsheet listing confirmed contributions, the dates they were expected and the initials of the donors. Leavitt, the Naples surgeon, was among those whose initials were included in the document. His late wife, Mary Haas, had been on Burlington College's board of trustees for several years before her 2009 death. Leavitt succeeded her and served until he left Vermont in 2012.

But as VTDigger first noted in a September 2015 story, the spreadsheet indicated that Leavitt had pledged to make two $30,000 contributions — even though the former trustee later recalled promising just one such donation.

"I don't remember doing that," he reiterated to Seven Days this week, referring to the supposed second pledge.

According to Leavitt, the FBI agents who visited his home earlier this year were focused on what he had promised Burlington College and when he had promised it.

"I didn't exactly understand what their goal was," he said.

The Sanders family was concerned enough about the investigation during the 2016 presidential campaign that O'Meara Sanders' daughter, Carina Driscoll, asked that the school notify her of any press inquiries it received, according to Holm. Burlington College reached out to the campaign "on at least three occasions," she said.

"Carina was very quick to want to be knowing if anything came up," Holm said. "People were making inquiries, so we did make the campaign managers of the [presidential] campaign aware of that, and we kept Carina apprised at the time, but we did not go into any detail."

Driscoll declined to comment.

The senator's critics and opponents have taken note over the years of his wife's rocky tenure at Burlington College.

In September 2014, Skip Vallee — a Shelburne gasoline distributor, former ambassador and conservative provocateur — bought $10,000 worth of television advertisements accusing the senator of hypocrisy because he benefited from a $200,000 "golden parachute" when his wife left the school. An opposition research file compiled by 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton and obtained by WikiLeaks includes five pages of news stories about O'Meara Sanders' time at Burlington College.

Toensing himself sought to tie the senator to the controversy in his initial complaint, alleging that O'Meara Sanders' "special political status not only helped enable these apparent offenses, but also ensures her protection from any sort of state scrutiny or enforcement." The Republican lawyer wrote that the couple had "built political careers pontificating against corporate corruption and claiming to want to help the needy" but had harmed the diocese and the "vulnerable Vermonters" they serve.

Though the family's response Monday to news of the investigation was measured in tone, Sanders spokesman Michael Briggs lashed out at Toensing when he filed his complaint in January 2016, calling it "recycled, discredited garbage."

In a statement issued at the time, Briggs wrote, "These kinds of attacks on family members of candidates are one of the reasons why the American people are so disgusted with politics in America today."

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Wed May 03, 2017 12:02 pm 
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chijohnaok wrote:

In a statement issued at the time, Briggs wrote, "These kinds of attacks on family members of candidates are one of the reasons why the American people are so disgusted with politics in America today."


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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:52 pm 
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http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/stor ... 548380001/

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Discrepancies emerge in Burlington College donor list

April McCullum, Burlington Free Press Published 3:18 p.m. ET Aug. 11, 2017 | Updated 5:54 p.m. ET Aug. 11, 2017

The lingering questions about Burlington College's finances are based, in large part, on a cryptic three-page spreadsheet.

The spreadsheet — a list of confirmed and potential donors to the college's 2010 capital campaign using each donor's initials — helped Burlington College and then-president Jane O'Meara Sanders to finance the purchase of a new $10 million lakefront campus.

At least four of the donors included on the spreadsheet, however, have challenged the listed amount of their donations. The document now appears to be wrapped up in an ongoing FBI investigation about whether the donations were exaggerated to mislead the bank.

One former member of Burlington College's board of trustees, David V. Dunn, said the board began to doubt the veracity of some of the capital campaign donations in the summer of 2011, and he says the doubts led to the removal of Sanders as president that fall. Dunn said the college's finance office indicated that actual donations were less than what was originally represented.

A second former trustee, Jonathan Leopold, denied the account and said the board had no doubts about the approximately $2.6 million in listed capital campaign pledges. Leopold said the board was more concerned that additional fundraising efforts had stalled.

The college needed to raise $6 million to support the debt from the $10 million property purchase. College leaders also planned to renovate the spacious new campus, which would attract new students and their tuition dollars. The plan was to double enrollment.

"We didn't have a strong history of capital campaigns, and we didn’t have an alumni base that lent itself to a capital campaign, so we knew that it was going to be a big lift," said Leopold, who served on the college's board of trustees for about six years.

More: Burlington College considered selling land within a year of property deal

Sanders, the wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., reached out to wealthy contacts, including businessman and philanthropist Tony Pomerleau and philanthropist Crea Lintilhac. Trustees were asked to contribute some of their own money as well as seek out other donors.

Some of the donors have publicly questioned the amounts listed in their names:

[list=]
College trustees and financial statements indicate that the college's major capital campaign donor, Corinne Bove Maietta, promised to give $1 million upon her death. The bequest is listed instead as a series of cash payments in the college's list of donations. Maietta has spoken about the bequest with the news organization VTDigger but could not be reached for further comment.
One former trustee, David V. Dunn, says his initials appear on the document next to an $18,000 confirmed pledge, but he never made any pledge.
Another former trustee, Rob Michalak, believes his initials are marked down for a $5,000 commitment. The pledge was lower than $5,000, Michalak said, while declining to disclose the amount in his records.
A third trustee, Ron Leavitt, told VTDigger in 2015 that though he was listed as a $60,000 donor, he never pledged that amount. He said he gave only $30,000. Leavitt could not be reached for further comment.
Tony Pomerleau, who was listed as an unconfirmed $1 million donor on the list, said he offered the gift to Sanders as a matching donation if the college was able to secure a first $1 million. There is no indication on the donor list that the pledge was dependent on another gift.[/list]

Sanders left the college under a separation agreement in October 2011. Burlington College was ultimately unable to fulfill its fundraising or enrollment goals, and debt from the 2010 property purchase led to the college's closure in May 2016.

The Burlington Free Press recently interviewed nine people known to be donors to Burlington College or whose initials matched the college's list. Of the nine, seven people confirmed the amount of their pledges or indicated they likely would have been included on a list of potential donors.

It is unclear whether the list, which identifies potential donors only by their initials and contains several mathematical errors, served as the basis for the bank's approval of the Burlington College fundraising plans, or whether the bank also reviewed donors' signed commitment letters.

People's United Bank and its officers have declined to comment on any aspect of the loan to Burlington College.

Sanders did not respond to a voicemail message seeking an interview for this report. Two former financial officials at Burlington College, Christine Plunkett and Michael Luck, did not respond to multiple voicemail messages and emails seeking comment. Adam Dantzcher, who served as chairman of the board of trustees when Sanders left the college in 2011, did not respond to a detailed list of questions.

The list of Burlington College donors was made public by the Vermont Educational and Health Buildings Financing Agency, the organization that approved $6.7 million in tax-exempt bonds for Burlington College. The agency's attorney shared about 900 pages of documents related to the bonds, including the list of donors identified with initials, in response to a public records request.

The executive director of VEHBFA, Robert Giroux, said the agency never asked Burlington College for a list of donors and was surprised to learn that the list was among the agency's documents.

The Boston-based firm Public Financial Management reviewed the college's financial projections, including the capital campaign and enrollment projections, on behalf of VEHBFA and recommended that VEHBFA approve the bonds. Giroux said People's United Bank, which was the underwriter for the tax-exempt bonds, was primarily responsible for negotiating the terms of the financing and verifying information.

"This is what they do for a living," Giroux said of People's United Bank. "So if they’re comfortable moving forward, then the agency is as well."

'Questionable donations'?

Former trustees have given conflicting accounts of how the board viewed the capital campaign, and whether fundraising contributed to their decision to remove Sanders from leadership.

David V. Dunn, who said he served on the Burlington College board of trustees starting in the fall of 2010 and transitioned off the board in late 2011, said the board began to doubt the accuracy of the capital campaign contributions that had been presented in the spreadsheet, including the $1 million bequest from Maietta.

Dunn said the college finance office, led by Christine Plunkett, informed the board about discrepancies between the spreadsheet and what donors said they would contribute. Dunn said "questionable donations" were a factor in the board's decision to ask Sanders to leave the college in October 2011.

"There were three issues that the board made the decision to remove her," Dunn said. "One decision was the financial information and the questionable donations, the second was a student incident, and the third was a crisis of confidence in her leadership as expressed by the faculty."

Leopold, who served on the board’s finance committee at the time Sanders left Burlington College, refuted Dunn's claim that the board doubted the veracity of the pledges.

"I can say unequivocally that there was absolutely no question about the strength of that $2.6 million," Leopold said.

Leopold and Carolyn Elliott, another board member who served on the executive committee, both said the board became concerned in 2011 about the lack of additional pledges beyond the original $2.6 million.

Elliott said the board's decision to remove Sanders stemmed from a lack of confidence from college administrators, including Plunkett.

"My understanding was that it was because all three of the administrative offices of the school had come forward and said to the chair that they were no longer prepared to work with Jane, that there was a lack of confidence in her leadership," Elliott said.

Rob Michalak, another trustee, did not recall concern about the capital campaign pledges. He declined to say why Sanders was asked to leave.

"I don't recall seeing any numbers that created any concern," Michalak said. "I know that there was a sense of, you know, we needed to go after it and be enterprising in reaching out and collecting the different capital campaign commitments and pledges, but I don’t recall anything where I was at a meeting where there was overdue concern or alarm."

Trustee pledges

The spreadsheet of capital campaign donations listed 14 confirmed pledges from college trustees totaling $278,500. Three of the trustees have challenged the amounts listed next to their initials.

The document lists a $5,000 pledge with the initials "RM." Rob Michalak said he pledged less money, but would not say how much.

“I humbly admit that my pledge was lower than that,” Michalak said. He said he made a verbal pledge that was acknowledged in a written letter from the college.

Michalak said he had given 75 percent of his pledge by the time he left the board.

David V. Dunn believes the spreadsheet lists him as a donor with the initials "DD" counted for a $18,000 gift over five years. He said he never made a pledge.

"My initials are on there, but I did not pledge any money," Dunn said.





Continued below due to length

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- misattributed to Alexis De Tocqueville

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 Post subject: Re: (A) Sanders runs Vermont university into insolvency
PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 2:53 pm 
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The college's financial officers at the time did not respond to messages seeking to confirm the names of the donors, including the "DD" entry.

The third trustee, Ron Leavitt, told the news organization VTDigger that he gave only $30,000, even though the college spreadsheet listed his donation as a total of $60,000.

Other trustees confirmed their pledges.

Joel Miller served on the board of trustees for about 12 years until the college closed. When the Diocese property became available in 2010, Miller argued against the purchase and said the college should rent space instead.

“Using hope as a strategy, it was a little crazy,” Miller said.

Nevertheless, Miller and his wife, Hinda, agreed to contribute $25,000 over five years. They are listed in the college capital campaign document as "JHM." Miller said they paid the full pledge.

Miller attributes the college's ultimate failure to a lack of student enrollment, combined with the debt from the campus purchase.

"It was like a perfect storm. We had more bills and less people coming aboard," Miller said.

Trustee Carolyn Elliott said she made a "modest pledge," but did not pay it all. She said the $1,500 pledge listed on the spreadsheet under the initials "CE," sounded accurate.

Elliott, who was on the board's executive committee and supported the decision to remove Sanders from leadership, believes the federal investigation into Burlington College is "absolutely absurd."

There was no "malfeasance," Elliott said, that led to the college's demise. She attributes the failure to a small pool of potential students, a lack of connections to the community, and an "ambitious leap of faith that didn't turn out."

In hindsight, Elliott believes the property purchase was a mistake.

“It was based on a plan and a hope, but certainly it was a mistake, because it involved raising far more money than the college had ever raised before,” Elliott said.

Robin Lloyd, who served on the board, confirmed that she would have been listed for a $60,000 contribution. A donation in that amount is listed with the initials "RLl."

The spreadsheet also includes a $500 pledge from "JL." Jonathan Leopold said he was that donor, and he believes he paid the full amount.

Other donors speak

Local philanthropists, alumni and friends of the college were also called upon to donate.

Philanthropists Crea and Philip Lintilhac were finishing up a five-year $50,000 donation to Burlington College when the college began the capital campaign for the new campus. They agreed to give another $100,000 over five years through the Lintilhac Foundation.

"My husband and I definitely believed in Jane Sanders’ vision," Crea Lintilhac said in an interview. She believed Sanders planned to sell part of the 32-acre campus to bring down the debt.

The donor spreadsheet lists a $120,000 confirmed donation under the initials "CPL2." Lintilhac said the $120,000 amount may have been accurate because of the overlapping pledges.

After Sanders left the college in 2011, Lintilhac said no one from the college met with her to update her on the college's plans or vision, unlike other nonprofit organizations that received her philanthropy. Her only contact from the Burlington College development office came in the form of postcards inviting her to events.

In 2014, when the New England Association of Schools and Colleges placed Burlington College's accreditation on probation for financial reasons, Lintilhac was alarmed enough to stop her financial support.

Lintilhac wrote a letter to Plunkett, the then-president of Burlington College, and said her foundation was "extremely concerned" about the college's financial ability to fulfill its mission.

"I absolutely understand your concerns and I hope to meet with you later this month to give you some updates," Plunkett wrote in response. "I look forward to seeing you and will be in touch."

Lintilhac said she never heard from Plunkett, and the Lintilhac Foundation withheld the final $40,000 of its pledge. After Plunkett resigned in 2014, Lintilhac met with Interim President Mike Smith. The college closed in 2016.

Lintilhac said the college should have reached out personally to donors sooner after Sanders left. She does not feel that her donations to Burlington College were a waste of money.

"There are many wonderful projects that become defunct, but they served the people well during their time," Lintilhac said.

"Sometimes by nature or by accident or by unfortunate circumstances like this, a wonderful endeavor ends," she continued, "but that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t incredibly productive and worthwhile while it lasted."

Helen Riehle, a former Burlington College board member, said she and her husband Ted had supported the college financially in the past. Riehle said she attended Sanders' tour of the new campus, and though she was excited about the property, Riehle did not recall making a financial pledge for the capital campaign.

The spreadsheet lists an unconfirmed donation for $2,000 under the initials "THR." Riehle said it would not have been unusual for her to be listed on a spreadsheet of potential donors.

Adam Bortz, a Burlington College graduate who served on the board of trustees, said he agreed to make a donation to the capital campaign. He declined to share the amount, and the donation does not appear to be listed on the spreadsheet that the college prepared in 2010.

Bortz, who leads the Burlington College alumni association, sent the final installment of his five-year donation just months before the college closed. He says the board of trustees bears the full responsibility for the college's fate.

"I was devastated," Bortz said. Nevertheless, Bortz does not regret his financial support for Burlington College.

"I’m still glad I did it," Bortz said, "because it's my college."

All of Burlington College's assets have been sold, but they were not enough to pay off its debts. The final foreclosure sale is set to be finalized in Chittenden Superior Court next week.

Contact April McCullum at 802-660-1863 or amccullum@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @April_McCullum.

_________________
The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.
- misattributed to Alexis De Tocqueville

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