Daily Archives: April 11, 2022

The VTGOP’s Little Oligarchs

I’ve written before of the delicate high-wire act between moderates and far-righters that VTGOP chair Paul Dame is perfectly unsuited to carry out. He’s got to try to encompass the Phil Scott camp and all the ultraconservatives who litter the party apparatus.

Turns out, he also has to play nice with a coterie of big donors ($1,000 or more apiece) who are keeping the party above water, and most of them tilt strongly rightward.

The VTGOP has had fundraising trouble since I started tracking #vtpoli back in 2011. They still do. A check of the party’s FEC filings shows that, from January 2021 through February 2022, total party fundraising added up to $94,081. They got another $14,350 from the Republican National Committee, bringing total takings to $108,431.

That’s less than $10,000 a month, even with the RNC’s pity money.

Compare that to the Vermont Democratic Party, which raised almost $300,000 from individual donors in the same period — at a time when the party was seriously disorganized and suffering frequent turnover among leadership and staff. But that’s just the beginning; the VDP took in another 300K from other organizations. Almost two-thirds of that came from the Democratic National Committee. Most of the rest came from Democratic politicians’ campaign funds and members of Vermont’s Congressional delegation as well as a couple of big labor unions and, for some reason, $500 apiece from sports-gambling giants FanDuel and DraftKings.

Add it all up, and it’s more than $600,000 in the same period when the VTGOP barely cleared $100,000.

So the VTGOP is scrambling for any dollar it can find. And of its fundraising total, $42,670 — more than 45% — came from big-dollar donors. Well, big-dollar by Vermont standards anyway. But clearly, they make up enough of the VTGOP’s donor base that they have to be catered to. Now, let’s look at who they are.

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Vermont Right to Life Practices the Art of Not Being Seen

The folks at Vermont Right to Life know they’re up against it. Vermont voters will have their say in November on Proposition 5, a constitutional amendment protecting reproductive rights, and they will almost certainly pass it by a wide margin. Right to Life knows this. So they are setting out to campaign in stealth mode. Like the many conservative school board candidates I’ve written about, VRTL has abandoned its real agenda in favor of a whitewashed, seemingly inoffensive suite of arguments.

They’ve even launched a new organization, Vermonters for Good Government. Now, doesn’t that sound like something we can all get behind?

But a brief perusal of VfGG’s website shows that their vision of “good government” consists of one thing: Defeating Proposition 5. But they aren’t doing it by shouting about how fetuses are human beings, no sir. They simply want to expose “the implications of swift changes to the Vermont Constitution.”

Swift, ha. The amendment process takes a full two four* years. Ain’t nothing “swift” about Prop 5.

*The amendment must be approved in two successive bienniums, not two successive years.

But wait, there’s more! These people are the real feminists, don’t ya know? VfGG warns of “the unseen, harmful impact of Prop 5 on the health and well-being of young girls, women, our communities, our healthcare system…” And they close by saying they are nothing more than guardians of the Vermont Constitution.

How do I know VfGG and VRTL are one and the same? First, according to the Secretary of State’s nonprofit registry, the principals of VfGG include two prominent figures in the right to life movement, Sharon Toborg and Norman Smith. And second, the VRTL Twitter account is promoting an event sponsored by VfGG.

That event, by the way, is a campaign strategy session led by a notorious figure in far-right politics.

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