Tag Archives: Baron & Budd

Sorrell versus the record, part 1: the MTBE deal

Earlier this week, former Mark Johnson Show host Mark Johnson produced his first podcast for his new employer, VTDigger. It was a 50-plus-minute interview with Attorney General Bill Sorrell, headlined by Our Eternal General’s stout denials of any wrongdoing. (It was also an excellent example of Johnson’s interviewing skills. His departure from WDEV was a big loss for our public discourse, and I look forward to his Digger podcasts.) Sorrell is, of course, the subject of an independent investigation for campaign finance-related activities.

SorrellCriminalThe interview reveals Sorrell in all his self-centered, fumblemouthed glory. He is, as always, the innocent target of politically motivated attack and quasi-journalistic hit pieces. But it’s worth taking a close look at how he explains himself, and comparing that to what’s on the record so far. (The independent investigator, Tom Little, is famously tight-lipped about his work, so we have no clue what he may have discovered.)

I’m breaking this up into parts because otherwise, it’d be horrifically long. This installment, Sorrell’s explanation of the MTBE lawsuit, is itself pretty damn long. If you don’t want to read the whole thing, the bottom line is: Sorrell’s interpretations and recollections are self-serving, and often at odds with the facts. In my judgment, it’s unclear whether Sorrell violated the law; but his behavior and his insidery relationships with key players are disturbing at the very least. There is an appearance of wrongdoing, whether there was actual wrongdoing or not.

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Have we just reached the tipping point on Bill Sorrell?

SorrellBlindersSurprising, and rather shocking, news out of the Statehouse today, courtesy of Paul Heintz:

The Vermont Senate is considering stripping Attorney General Bill Sorrell of his powers to prosecute campaign finance violations. Replacing him, according to lawmakers who support the idea, would be an independent elections oversight commission.

… “The fact that the attorney general is charged with investigating him or herself is clearly ridiculous,” says Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington), a member of the committee.

Those wanting to strip Sorrell of his authority include Dems, Repubs and Progs. No partisan witch hunt here. Two thoughts:

— This shows the breadth and depth of the Sorrell-hatred among the political class. To even propose such a slap in his face is a big deal. For all this to happen in a matter of days is pretty extraordinary. It’s like a dam breaking under pent-up pressure.

— If the Legislature has time to think about this and even write a bill, how can Governor Shumlin go on saying he’s too busy to think about it?

Sorry, a third thought: Continue reading