Remember this little number? The newspaper ad placed by a bunch of Addison County Republican candidates with the long list of extremist talking points? Fentanyl in Halloween candy? Gender-affirming medical care is human mutilation? Carbon dioxide is good for the planet?
Funny thing. Five of the seven “co-signers” tell the Addison Independent that they did not sign it, and do not agree with the ad’s assertions.
They are all deliberately vague about which ones they disagree with because the ad is, at best, only about 10% kookier than they are, and they don’t want to offend the QAnon types in their base.
The person responsible for the ad is the kookiest of them all, state Senate candidate Robert Burton, last seen wowing an audience (especially Sen. Ruth Hardy) with his boldfaced assertion that “Climate change is a hoax.”
The details of this fiasco, per the Addy Indy, are simply delicious. But the story leaves a couple of big questions unanswered.
According to the disaffected candidates, Burton chatted with each of them but didn’t get their final approval for any ad content. His idea of “gaining consent” is… interesting.
Burton acknowledged he knew some individuals did not agree with all of the assertions in the ad. He said, “I spoke to people and asked what their interest are — family, parental rights, etc.”… “Nothing in there is not something that somebody said.”
To summarize: Any statement made by any single person was taken by Burton as gospel truth from them all. As Bugs Bunny would say, “What a maroon.”
Burton said his partner in crime was Ed Wheeler, pastor of the Valley Bible Church in Middlebury. Burton claims it was Wheeler who worked with a committee to put the ad together. (Wheeler is listed as treasurer of the group bankrolling the ad.) If true, it tells you all you need to know about Wheeler’s brand of Christianity.
As for the dissenters, it would have been nice if they could have identified specific statements they disagreed with. Mutilation? CO2 as boon to humankind? Baseless Fentanyl scare?
But they didn’t.
Without saying specifically which of the two dozen or so talking points in the ad she objected to, [Valerie] Mullin said she was misrepresented and had “absolutely not” authorized the ad.
… “We are united in the fact that we disavowed being part of it and we told Mr. Burton that we didn’t want to be a part of it,” [Jon] Christiano said. …[but] like the others, Christiano wouldn’t say which parts of the ad he opposed and which he supported.
Profiles in Courage.
The other unanswered question is about this little gem: Burton paid for the ad “in part with checks from the Republican Party, and in part with his own money.”
How much from the VTGOP? Who approved the expenditure? Did they do any due diligence? They knew, or should have known, the caliber of the people they were backing with party funds. And the process may well have violated campaign finance laws.
Thankfully for all involved, there are no penalties for campaign finance violations, thanks to a Legislature that writes the laws that govern their own political activities. So really, this episode of the Keystone Kops does nothing more than prove, as if we needed more proof, that the Addison Republican ticket should not be taken seriously.
Too bad the governor allowed himself to be photographed with a bunch of them.
Lynn Dike used Front Porch Forum to disavow the ad. A community member responded to her disavowal with this request:
“It might be helpful for Ms. Dike to clarify here on FPF which statements in the ad that she and her fellow candidates reject outright (in other words, the ‘inflammatory’ bits) and which ones they support.”
She then wrote privately to the author, saying, “I don’t think it would be wise to try to cover everything on the forum.” Gee, I wonder why.