Meet Emerson Lynn, editor emeritus (and editorial writer) for the St. Albans Messenger, respected presence in Vermont journalism, and, according to a letter to the Messenger, court stenographer for Lt. Gov. Molly Gray’s campaign for Congress.
On Thursday July 14, the Messenger published an editorial written by Lynn endorsing Gray in truly fulsome terms and bashing her main opponent, Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint. The essay sounds like it was written by the Gray campaign.
Which, maybe it was.
The letter is from Natalie Silver, who was an advisor to the 2020 Gray campaign and is now Balint’s campaign manager. (I was told about the letter and inquired with the Balint campaign, which supplied it to me.)
In the letter, Silver accuses Lynn of being a shill for Molly Gray.
In 2020, during Gray campaign meetings, Silver wrote, “It was discussed openly that you were a Molly supporter and that the campaign would coordinate with you on your editorials, even drafting language for you.” Silver claimed the same thing is happening now on Gray’s behalf. Further, Silver asserts that “you have never spoken to me or [Balint], nor asked us a question about any of the various goings on in the campaign,” and, in fact, rejected the offer of a meeting. (Full text below.)
Silver doesn’t come across as selflessly heroic in this. In 2020 this arrangement helped Silver’s candidate and she was fine with it. Now it hurts her candidate and she’s complaining, so this is a case of situational ethics all around. But hey, situational ethics are standard in politics, are they not?
The person who comes out worst in this, if you ask me, is Lynn. This isn’t the first time he’s praised Gray or bashed Balint in print. It’s customary for editorial writers to speak with all major candidates before issuing an endorsement. If he had no contact with Team Balint, that’s a foul on Lynn.
Team Gray, in 2020 and again now, is taking advantage of Lynn’s position. It’s not a great look, but it’s what you do when you’re running a campaign and see an advantage to be taken. When push comes to shove, you push and shove with all your might. If you’ve got a friend in publishing, you run with it.
But the folks who read Messenger editorials, who must measure in the dozens at least, might take a grain or two of salt with their consumption of Lynn’s musings on the race.
Here’s the text of Silver’s letter to the Messenger:
You and I have interacted a few times over the years, most recently when I worked for Congressman Welch as his Communications Director on his Senate campaign.
I was a member of Molly Gray’s kitchen cabinet in 2020. I helped craft her campaign strategy, I worked closely with her team, hired many of them and I was a friend and resource to her and her staff. It was discussed openly that you were a Molly supporter and that the campaign would coordinate with you on your editorials, even drafting language for you.
I am now Becca Balint’s campaign manager. I respect the fact that you are a staunch Gray supporter, and have no doubt you will continue to write your columns accordingly, as is your prerogative. However, you have never spoken to me or my candidate, nor asked us a question about any of the various goings on in the campaign. It is possible you are speaking to others, or doing research I am unaware of. But I am wondering if you are interested in speaking to Becca? It would be great if you would be willing to sit down with her so you can hear Becca’s perspective and so you all can at least meet.
In your most recent piece you not only accuse our campaign of intentionally breaking the law, but that Becca and our team are dishonest, bad actors, who are deviously trying to deceive the voters. Those are serious accusations.
If you had asked, we would have told you that as soon as our campaign and Becca learned that there was an issue with her financial disclosures, we immediately set to work to cure the issue. Which we now have. There is an almost 300 page financial disclosure on the House Ethics Committee Site. Becca has paid the $200 fine and filed the disclosure that was due earlier this year. Is there information you feel you are missing? We would be happy to provide it, should you reach out.
I understand this is an editorial page. But when my candidate asked to meet with you we were told no. In the spirit of a “call for integrity”, you may consider meeting with Becca to have a better sense of both candidates. If you refuse to, it would seem reasonable to put a disclaimer on your pieces that you are supporting the Gray campaign so that voters do not confuse it with an impartial analysis of current events.
Thanks very much, and I’m happy to hop on the phone and chat any time. Becca looks forward to the opportunity to meet with you.
Becca Balint for Congress