As Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) faces a possible FBI probe of a land deal his wife undertook, with allegations swirling that he pressured bank officials to approve the loan, he may soon face a new challenge at home — defending his own Senate seat from a Democratic challenger.
“Bernie is a tremendous egomaniac who has accomplished nothing,” homeless advocate Jon Svitavsky told Breitbart News. “Bernie is a straw man.”
Sanders has been facing increasing scrutiny over a 2010 land deal made by Jane Sanders when she was president of Burlington College. Mrs. Sanders is alleged to have overstated the amount of donations she had to repay the loan.
Jane Sanders eventually resigned in 2011 and the college shut down in 2016, in part because of the weight of the debt of the land deal. Sen. Sanders faces allegations that he put pressure on the bank to approve the loan, allegations he firmly denies.
While Sanders’ approval rating in his home state of Vermont remains high, some Democrats are saying “enough is enough” and are looking to boot Bernie out of office.
Jon Svitavsky — a homeless advocate and a proud Democrat — told Breitbart News that although he has no previous experience of political office and no political endorsements, it is time someone stood up to the man he partially blames for Hillary Clinton’s defeat in November. He said:
The central reason [for running] is my real, serious alarm about how Senator Sanders handled the primaries and the lack of integrity and honesty of his campaign against Hillary. Ultimately the result was that he split the Democrats and threw the election to Donald Trump. That was a real betrayal of all the things Sen. Sanders seemingly stands for.
Svitavsky has a long history with Sanders. A graduate of the doomed Burlington College himself, the homeless advocate says that he has set up five homeless shelters but faced opposition from Sanders when the future senator was a humble Burlington Mayor in the 1980s. He says Sanders told him to “cool it” on the religious aspect to his homeless shelters (Svitavsky says he never pushed his Christian views on anyone) and objected to Svitavsky’s rule that those staying in the shelters not be visibly drunk.
But he says that Sanders’ opposition to him stemmed from the senator’s inability to support anything without himself taking credit for it. He points to what he sees as Sanders’ neglect of Vermont since hitting the national stage as proof of this.
“He ignored Vermont, he hasn’t talked to the media here in two years. Where is the man’s integrity and what has he accomplished in all his time in Congress?” he asked. “He’s sponsored three bills, two to rename post offices.”
Ultimately, Svitavsky says Vermont residents deserve someone who does what Bernie says he will do. He accepts that he is a longshot candidate, but he says he has already received lots of support and people keen to donate.
“I haven’t even officially announced my candidacy and people are chomping at the bit to donate,” he said. “I’ve been really pleased by the response.”
He says that, despite the struggle that lies before him, he is quietly confident about his chances — especially with Bernie in the FBI’s sights.
“I am quite confident that I will win the Senate seat, it could be by a technical knockout if he’s indicted in the bank case,” he said. “The con can’t go on forever and I think Bernie is going to be exposed.”
Adam Shaw is a Breitbart News politics reporter based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY