The McAllister Shuffle

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell was on VPR’s “Vermont Edition” today. And eventually*, the conversation turned to Norm McAllister.

*More on this below. 

The topline: Campbell expects the Senate will suspend McAllister pending the outcome of his criminal trial.

Yup, the coward’s way out. They don’t have to get their hands dirty, and they’ll have a pretext for keeping him away from the Statehouse, thus limiting the potential media circus. At least they hope so.

Now, Campbell dressed it up in talk of not interfering in McAllister’s right to a fair trial. But that ignores some inconvenient facts:

— If they’d wanted to, Senators could have come up with a way to oust McAllister without trampling on his rights.

— By taking this course of action, the Senate will be putting its own needs ahead of the disenfranchised voters of Franklin County, who will be short one Senator for the entire 2016 session. (Trial is scheduled for March, but there will almost certainly be delays beyond adjournment.)

— Said voters have no recourse. There is no recall provision in state law. The people are dependent on the tender mercies of the Senate, which oh God.

By suspending McAllister, the Senate will drop this hot potato right in the laps of Franklin County Republicans. Because if McAllister is clueless enough to resist the near-universal calls for his resignation, there’s a good chance he will actually run for re-election. (Unless he is convicted and sentenced, but that’s not likely to happen until the campaign is well underway and the filing deadline is past. And if he is convicted, why not appeal and drag it out even longer?)

So let’s say the as-yet-unconvicted McAllister announces he is running for another term. What can Franklin County Republicans do?

I doubt they can bar him from the ballot. They can’t stop anyone from voting for him. Even if they field an “official” candidate in his stead, he might well prevail on name recognition alone — especially if their guy has to campaign as a write-in. And then he’ll be on the November ballot right alongside Dustin Degree and Corey Parent and Steve Beyor and Carolyn Branagan and Eileen Dickinson and Larry Fiske and Marianna Gamache and Albert Pearce and Brian Savage.

And Phil Scott and Randy Brock.

How do you like them apples? Can’t wait for the Unity Rally in St. Albans.

Now, back to VPR.

Campbell was the primary guest on “Vermont Edition”. His appearance ran from the beginning of the show until 12:37. Care to guess when the subject of McAllister came up?


No chance for listeners to call in. Just a quick Q&A and goodbye.

C’mon, VPR. Get off your high horse.

I know you wanted to prioritize the “real issues” facing the Legislature, and bully for you. But the McAllister affair is going to be front and center on Day One. It’s going to suck all the oxygen out of the room until the Senate can send him back to the farm. It is, literally, the elephant in the room.

Yes, it’s going to be a media circus, and We At Public Radio Are Above Such Goings-On. But it’s also a serious public policy question, particularly for everyone who lives in Franklin County. It also concerns the oversight of legislative ethics, or should I say the lack thereof. That’s a matter of legitimate public interest.

VPR may have avoided soiling its white linen gloves by minimizing discussion of McAllister, but they did their listeners a disservice. And, in trying to avoid tainting itself with an icky-sticky sex scandal, it failed to see the forest for the trees.

5 thoughts on “The McAllister Shuffle

  1. Kelly Cummings

    This whole thing really reeks.

    McAllister has admitted to some pretty horrible stuff. Based on that alone the Senate should, at the least, suspend this man without delay.

    I find it unsettling on many levels. The rape of an intern? Cloakroom meetings? Campbell’s house? Unrepresented Franklin County constituents? The cowardly gray of the words “undecided”, “not enough information” and “it’s up to him”.

    If a Franklin County constituent has an issue with something, do they really have to speak with a man who has publicly admitted to committing such horrible unethical acts? A man who defiantly seems to be more concerned about his own well being than the well being of his constituents. Which by the way, is telling in itself.

    What kind of a solution is that? Shame on the Senate. And honestly, it’s just weird. I can only imagine every mother and father of a daughter is, right now, hoping the Senate will take another look at the public admissions of McAllister and rethink their solution/not solution.

  2. newzjunqie

    Campbell is ethically challenged and there may be others – how pot/kettle this is an unknown, but at very least perhaps passing first-stone test is about all they’re capable of.

    Which returns anyone watching this and paying attention back to the overarching issue — removing them from what they are apparently incapable or willfully refuse to do — make ethical judgements. To be fair, this is murky territory. So why wouldn’t they be askiing for and welcoming clarity and guidance?

    Most glaring aspect of the debacle aside from the fate of the young intern is the chilly reception of an ethics commission or panel by our elected officials. Come on – only those who wish to remain unfettered by inconvenient truth and ethics would find this challenging. And Vermont is one of the very few states without any real and formal framework resulting in an elitist dynamic whereby our “lawmakers” make and enact rules and laws upon constituency but they themsemelves are above ethical rules and standards making them merely an elite club.

    Standards needs to be established and raised so our “leaders” don’t have to be bothered to make these these complicated decisions on their own.

    Over at GMD, Odum pretty much summed up the head-in-sand avoidance of our fearless leaders shirking and shrugging of responsibility in his comical takeaway point of which lands directly in the bullseye.


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