Yesterday I outlined the inflammatory, far-right views of Meg Hansen, the person handling “strategic communications” for the state House Republican Caucus.
And the more I thought about it, the more I wondered: who’s paying for her services?
It’s extremely unusual for a Vermont caucus — minority or majority — to have any paid staff whatsoever. The House Speaker has one staffer paid by the state; the Senate President Pro Tem historically has one, but John Campbell’s staff was expanded to two because he needed extra help to handle the job. Nobody else in the Legislature has any staff, unless they use their own money.
So, who’s paying Meg Hansen? Short answer: right now, I have no idea. We might find out more on July 15, the next campaign finance filing deadline; for now, the available information raises more questions than it answers.
One thing’s for sure: Vermont Republicans aren’t swimming in money. The VTGOP is perennially short of funds, and can barely keep the lights on at its headquarters.
As of April 30*, the party had a miserable $9,836 in cash on hand. They’ve been spending more than they’ve been taking in, which is an interesting thing for the Party of Fiscal Responsibility. But clearly, they aren’t the source of Meg Hansen’s money.
*The parties are required to file monthly reports with the feds. Even the state parties; most of their activities are legally defined as “federal.” That’s why we have more recent info on the VTGOP than other entities.
The money could also be coming from the Vermont House Republican PAC. But on March 15, it had just over $7,000 on hand, which isn’t enough money for even a part-time position.
The PAC may have had an influx since mid-March; we won’t know until July 15. One interesting note from its March 15 filing: it received $4,000 in donations between July of last year and mid-March of this year. Every single dollar came from an out-of-state corporate source: $1,000 apiece from Monsanto and Altria, and $2,000 from Pfizer.
Respectively, that’s the world’s leading GMO pusher, the company formerly known as Philip Morris, and one of the giants of Big Pharma. It’s not a lot of money, but is it just the beginning? Is the House Republican PAC enjoying an influx of corporate funds? Tune in on July 15.
There’s also the Republican State Leadership Committee, which has already started advertising in Vermont (with its notorious mugshot mailer). The RSLC didn’t file a report on March 15, which means its spending didn’t begin until after that date. Again, we’ll have to wait for July 15 to learn if they’re funnelling money to Don Turner’s policy shop.
And I’ll just pause here to once again thank the Legislature for failing to implement a more rigorous campaign finance reporting schedule. They had the chance to require monthly reports during election years, and they refused.
So the question remains: who’s paying the freight for Turner’s hard-right Christian conservative “strategic communications” guru?