Daily Archives: May 22, 2015

Bill Sorrell’s ethical quagmire

h/t to Ice-T, once a gangsta.

h/t to Ice-T, once a gangsta.

So I finally read through the cache of Bill Sorrell emails uncovered by Paul Heintz and Brady Toensing, and boy do I need a shower.

The Eternal General’s correspondence with high-priced lawyers at big-time law firms may not constitute illegal activity, but it does reveal an unseemly, fundamentally squicky ethical swampland. Sorrell happily splashes around in this slime pit like it’s the kiddie pool at one of those swanky hotels he enjoys on the law firms’ dime.

In public service, there should be distinct lines between friend, colleague, benefactor, client, and adversary. In his communications with these lawyers, Sorrell stomps and pisses all over those lines until they all but disappear.

Perhaps my interpretation is skewed by the fact that I have more doctors than lawyers in my family. It used to be that doctors routinely accepted gifts, meals, and expensive travel from drug company representatives. Since then, the profession’s standards have tightened considerably. Doctors, health care organizations and professional societies have very strict limits on such things.

With Sorrell, it’s the Wild West. And while he can assert that his conduct is not affected by all the freebies, the appearance itself is awful. Especially for the guy who’s supposed to be the people’s lawyer.

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Kremlinology III: the public and the private

Not to beat a dead horse, but something just occurred to me about Bill Sorrell’s presence and/or absence at recent gubernatorial signing events.

To recap, on Monday I noted our Eternal General’s conspicuous absence at two recent events, and the even more conspicuous presence of Sorrell’s once and (perhaps) future challenger, TJ Donovan. Three days later, the Governor’s office released a photo of Shumlin signing a bill in the presence of Sorrell and many of his staffers.

But there’s one huge difference between the latter occurrence and its predecessors.

The two non-Sorrell signings were public events with the media on hand. Thursday’s signing was a closed affair in the Governor’s office. No reporters, no video, no pictures except the official one.

The obvious explanation: there’s no way in Hell that Governor Shumlin wants to stand next to Bill Sorrell in the presence of reporters. We’d ask a few courtesy queries about the issue of the day, and then we’d bombard both men with questions about Sorrell’s ethical troubles. Shumlin would have to stand close by while Sorrell tried to explain himself; and even worse, Shumlin would have to give his take on the whole affair. “Do you stand by the Attorney General?” “Do you think he should continue to serve?” “Is it proper for The People’s Lawyer to accept free travel, accommodations, deluxe meals, and political donations from law firms that do business with the state?”

Etc., etc., etc.

The Governor would decline comment because of the ongoing investigation, but boy, would it be uncomfortable.

It’s a profoundly weird situation when you think about it: the Governor and the Attorney General, both elected officials from the same party, can’t appear in public together for fear of embarrassing questions.