Jane Sanders, wife of Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., is chalking charges that she committed bank fraud up to simple sexism.
Unfortunately for her, however, the FBI doesn't seem to agree.
Commenting for the first time on Brady Toensing, the man whose efforts to expose Sanders appear to have resulted in a Department of Justice investigation into her tenure as president of Burlington College, she told The Boston Globe, "I find it incredibly sexist that basically he's going after my husband by destroying my reputation, and that's not OK." Toensing, the vice chairman of the state Republican Party, has a long record of attacking Vermont's Democratic politicians.
The Globe also reported that Sanders "said Toensing's campaign against her is sexist because it assumes her husband somehow interceded on her behalf to secure the loan to buy the new campus — an accusation she insists has no merit."
Sanders wants you to know that she didn't commit fraud, but if she did, she wouldn't need her husband's help.
But the senator's wife seems to be confused, because those are two different allegations of sexism. Is it sexist that Toensing is, supposedly, going after her to discredit her husband, or is it sexist that his accusation is predicated on the charge that her husband's help is what allowed her to secure the loan? Does she believe both to be true? If so, and Sanders used her interview with the Globe to deliberately depict herself as the victim of a sexist smear campaign, it smacks of desperation.
But Toensing's motivations, sexist or not, do not necessarily discredit his allegations about what Sanders did. The FBI, for its part, believes the allegations have enough merit to warrant an investigation. Just last week, the Washington Post reported that the department's investigation has actually escalated.
As the Post reported:
[The investigation] has accelerated in recent months — with prosecutors hauling off more than a dozen boxes of records from the Vermont college she once ran and calling a state official to provide evidence for a grand jury, according to interviews and documents.
Half a dozen people said in interviews in recent days that they had been contacted by the FBI or federal prosecutors, and former college trustees told The Washington Post that attorneys for Jane Sanders had interviewed them to learn what potential witnesses might tell the government.
Labeling Toensing a sexist won't shield Sanders from the results of the FBI's probe, but expect her to keep trying anyway.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.