Fox News Goes After Bernie Sanders' Wife, Jane, GOP Guest Demands Bank Fraud Special Prosecutor

Fox News ran several segments this week warning Americans of the dangers of democratic socialism, but now the conservative-leaning outlet is taking aim at the wife of the movement's most prolific member: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Fox News and the Murdoch family's other media outlets including The Wall Street Journal and the Fox Business Network made claims against the independent senator and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, regarding a failed land deal and loan dating back to 2010. Thursday morning's Fox & Friends latched onto a scathing WSJ editorial digging back into Jane Sanders' tenure as president of Burlington College, which closed in May 2016 under the "crushing weight of debt" amassed under her leadership. Sanders left the school in 2011, but that didn't stop Vermont Republican Party vice-chair Brady Toensing -- who was also Trump's 2016 state campaign director -- from penning a letter accusing Jane Sanders of bank fraud to launch an investigation.

The Burlington Free Press reported last year that Toensing has referred to Senator Sanders as a "proselytizing socialist" and previously lobbied President Trump for a U.S. Attorney position.

Senior Sanders advisors say the federal investigation into the bad land deal was closed earlier this year and federal investigators aren't obligated to speak on closed cases. But right-wing critics are still calling for a "special prosecutor" investigation similar to Robert Mueller's probe into the Trump administration.

Toensing appeared on Fox & Friends Thursday to continue their discrediting campaign against Sanders and his wife.

"The college [Burlington] closed with a crushing weight of debt because she bought, in part, 32 acres to expand the college," host Steve Doocy told Toensing. "She took out $6.7 million in tax exempt loans. What's your problem with that? It sounds like she was just trying to grow things bigger?"

"Yeah. I don't have a problem. I like bigger things and I like successful businesses and I understand there's risk," Toensing responded. "But there's also something called bank fraud. And what happened was that Jane Sanders misrepresented and lied about confirmed contributions to the school in order to get the bank loan to buy this property."

"How did she lie?" Doocy asked.

"She overstated the contributions," said Toensing. "We know this because there are, well, we know this for at least three reasons. One, the school is only able to collect about 25 percent of the claimed contributions. Number two, the school's own audit reports showed the fraud. And number three, donors came forward to say their pledges were overstated, that they were misrepresented."

Toensing then complained that unlike President Trump, Bernie Sanders's connection to the loans will never be investigated by a special prosecutor like Robert Mueller.

"This is the shame of this, if that is exactly what happened," said Toensing. "There's not going to be a special prosecutor's report that comes out and explains exactly what role Senator Sanders played in getting this loan or what evidence was in front of the prosecutors that they declined to go forward on. We just have Senator Sanders, who refused to answer questions during the investigation because the investigation was going on and now he refuses to answer questions because it's closed."

Jeff Weaver, a senior advisor to the Sanders campaign, issued a statement to Fox New Wednesday, calling the investigation a Republican-backed political hit job and "recycled, discredited garbage."

"These false allegations began with a politically motivated complaint by Trump's 2016 Vermont chairman. As Jane has said from the beginning, she has done nothing wrong and was pleased that the investigation came to an end months ago. It's no coincidence that after Bernie Sanders's record breaking fundraising during the first day of his campaign, Fox News is regurgitating false attacks from Trump's cronies."

The Editorial Board of The Wall Street Journal, published a Tuesday piece, "Bernie and Burlington College: Sanders is no longer the only socialist in the Democratic crowd." The opinion piece ridiculed the Vermont senator, noting, "Mr. Sanders may discover at 77 years old that it's a disadvantage to be white and male among Democrats."

Back on Fox News Thursday morning, Toensing said, "If [Jane Sanders] had been Jane Doe instead of Jane Sanders she never would have gotten this loan, it never would have survived the most basic of underwriting...It appears as though the senator, the school received special treatment, [Jane Sanders] received special treatment because of Senator Sanders power in the state."

jane sanders burlington brady toensing
Fox News ran several segments this week warning Americans of the dangers of democratic socialism, but now the conservative outlet is taking aim at the wife of the movement's most prolific member: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Screenshot: Fox & Friends | YouTube

As The Wall Street Journal notes, many issues remain about Bernie's role in the Burlington College bank loan debacle that ultimately saw the Roman Catholic diocese lose out nearly $2 million. Additionally, questions remain about the senator's role in acquiring the loan altogether.

The final president of Burlington College after Jane Sanders, Carol A. Moore, published a piece in the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2016 asking, "What bank lends a small, private, unendowed college of that size and financial status an amount that so obviously outweighs its ability to repay?" She said that the People's United Bank was "in the state of an influential senator—a senator, as it turned out, with bigger ambitions."

Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy concluded the segment Thursday, "Nonetheless the feds did not prosecute, we don't know why."

Correction, Feb. 21: A previous version of this story referenced 'Fox Business Channel' instead of 'Fox Business Network.'