Please note: “Almost.”
The various critters who live under the Golden Dome must have felt a great sense of relief when Sen. Norm McAllister’s trial was delayed by at least three months. The trial was to have begun this week, and would have featured a parade of elected officials taking the stand and doing their best Sergeant Schultz impersonations. “I saw nothing. I heard nothing. I know nothing.”
Unseemly, to say the least. And it might have interfered with the free flow of Democracy In Action that we usually see at the Statehouse this time of year.
(Hey, you in the back row: Stop laughing.)
So now it’s put off until May 10, when the Legislature will almost certainly be safely adjourned. Ohh, you can bet your sweet bippy they’ll be gone by then.
Well, it’s a relief for the Legislature. It’s the worst possible news for Franklin County Republicans. McAllister’s trial won’t even begin until a mere fortnight before the filing deadline for major party candidates.
I’m sure the party is lining up a candidate for McAllister’s seat (two current Representatives, Carolyn Branagan and Corey Parent, are being mentioned). But I’m convinced that McAllister is clueless enough to file for re-election.
The depth of his cluelessness was on display on January 27, when he showed up uninvited at the Franklin County Legislative Breakfast. Not only that…
…McAllister actually tried to chair the meeting before Rep. Kathy Keenan (D) reminded him of his status.
That’s according to Sue Prent of Green Mountain Daily, who added:
Apart from Kathy Keenan’s intervention, I understand no one said anything about the elephant in the room, but photos in the [St. Albans] Messenger show a bunch of distinctly unsmiling Republican representatives.
McAllister may be many things, but self-aware isn’t one of them.
So yeah, I think he’s clueless enough to seek re-election. And if he showed up at the Legislative Breakfast, I’m sure he’ll put in appearances at any joint campaign appearances the County GOP might schedule. Can’t wait for the Fourth of July parade.
Or the August primary. I wouldn’t put it past the Good Citizens of Franklin County to choose McAllister in spite of his legal entanglements. We Vermonters do love us some incumbents, whether they deserve it or not. (See: Sorrell, Bill; Salmon, Tom; and Doyle, Bill.)
As for how long into campaign season McAllister’s trial might go, there’s this news from Seven Days’ Terri Hallenbeck:
A lawyer for Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Franklin) says he plans to seek two separate trials for his client, who is charged with sexual assault.
…In a phone interview about his legal strategy, McArthur said he expects the Franklin County State’s Attorney’s Office to oppose separate trials, but he argued it would be more fair for McAllister. “If a jury hears about multiple incidents, it’s more likely they’ll go along with it,” McArthur said.
It’s so unfair to the defendant when he has to face multiple accusers, don’tcha think? If this gambit succeeds, perhaps McArthur can get a gig with the Bill Cosby Defense Team.
Anyway, if there are two trials, I doubt they’d happen simultaneously. So things would stretch on into the summer. And let’s just say, for shits and giggles, that McAllister is convicted and files an appeal, which I’d rate a 99.9% certainty. Who knows how long that could go on?
Past the August primary date? Most likely. Past the November election? Quite possibly. Into the next Legislative session? Sure, why not? (If McAllister wins another term, does his suspension carry over? That’d be awkward.)
Just think how much simpler this would be, if only Vermont had some sort of enforceable ethics rules for elected officials.