Tag Archives: Ben Sarle

If Bill Sorrell needed a reason to throw another hissy fit…

Pardon the recent light blogging; I’ve been out of town. Got some stuff to catch up on, such as the following.

Recently, Seven Days’ Paul Heintz reported that many House Republicans conveniently absented themselves when the House voted on a marriage-equality resolution. These folks, real Profiles in Courage one and all, opposed the resolution but refused to put themselves on the record doing so. Still, they made some delightfully juicy comments to Heintz, including this delightful outrage-gasm from Republican Representative and Man’s Man Tom Terenzini:

“I would have voted against the resolution because, you know, No. 1: I don’t like socialist Democrats and the Progressives shoving that crap down my throat.”

Oh, those people are so completely obsessed with things being shoved down their throats. Something you’re hiding, Tom?

Anyway, Vermont Democratic Party flack Ben Sarle couldn’t resist this Cavalcade O’ Republican Outrage, so he sent out an email blast documenting the anti-resolution comments.

Did he realize that he was also sending a link to a whole lot of anti-Bill Sorrell material?

The second half of Heintz’ column was devoted to Sorrell’s routine flouting of campaign finance reporting laws. Which is, you know, ironic and stuff because Our Eternal General claims to be our guardian angel of campaign purity.

A review of Sorrell’s recent filings shows that he has routinely ignored the rules. Sixteen times over the past four years, Sorrell’s campaign has reimbursed him for hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of dollars’ worth of expenses paid out of his own pocket. In each instance, the campaign provided only a vague explanation of what Sorrell bought with the campaign cash — and never once did it disclose who it paid.

Heintz goes on to document the incredibly under-documented state of Sorrell’s filings. If any other Vermont pol did that stuff, Sorrell would be all over them like funk on a wet dog.

It’s damning stuff. And the Vermont Democratic Party effectively blasted it to their entire list.

I’m guessing it wasn’t intentional. On the other hand, there are a lot of Dems who can’t stand the guy, see him as out of touch, mediocre, full of himself, and quite possibly corrupt. Is there any chance that this was a subtle shot across Sorrell’s bow? An indication that the party wouldn’t be averse to a primary challenge in 2016?

Oh, we can only hope.

How to waste $142,000

Two suggestions:

1. Get yourself 7,100 $20 bills. Scatter them in a big pile. Douse in gasoline, add one lit match.

2. Spend it on Republican advertising in Vermont.

Image from the RSLC ad. Or maybe from a Cialis spot.

Image from the RSLC ad. Or maybe from a Cialis spot.

As first reported by VTDigger, a national organization called the Republican State Leadership Committee has chosen the second course, pouring $142,000 into a TV/radio ad campaign for Republican legislative candidates.

They might have asked Lenore Broughton how this kind of big-money, old-media, carpet-bombing technique works. She spent at least a million bucks in 2012 on a TV/radio/bulk mail blitz attacking the Dems, and failed to move the electoral needle at all.

But the RSLC didn’t ask her. In fact, they didn’t talk to anyone in Vermont. Just ask one of the first guys they should have talked to.

Rep. Don Turner, R-Milton, the House minority leader, said he welcomed the media campaign, but was unaware of it until VTDigger showed him the ad.

So a D.C.-based Republican organization is running generic ads for nameless candidates, and they didn’t even consult the House’s top Republican. Somehow I don’t think the Democrats are too worried about this. Oh wait, here’s a Democrat now:

It’s just like in 2012, when there was a single Republican donor spending approximately $1 million here in Vermont. The VTGOP is just trying to bankroll their way towards relevance. It’s not going to work. Vermonters have already made it clear that the right-wing agenda has no place in our state, and they will make it clear again on November 4th. The RSLC is spending six figures on behalf of VTGOP candidates and that money comes directly from the Koch brothers and other insidious sources.

That’s from Ben Sarle, the VT Dems’ communications director. Now, naturally you’d expect him to say that. But the facts on the ground support his assertions. No matter what RSLC does, the Dems are extremely unlikely to lose more than a handful of legislative seats; it’s even possible that they’ll add a few to their outsized majorities.

But shed no tears for the RSLC. They’ve got money to burn, with a donor list that’s a Who’s Who of corporate America. In 2012 alone, RSLC spent some $39 million in state campaigns. So a lousy $142,000? That’s pocket change.

Oh, for your further entertainment, here’s the RSLC’s Top 20 donors for the year so far, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Screen Shot 2014-10-10 at 12.45.55 AM

Mmmm, delightful. Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Banking, Big Pharma. Big Telecom. Wal-Mart. Gambling. The US Chamber of Commerce. They’re all there.

Inclluding at least a couple of Bigs that have been generous to Governor Shumlin: Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Comcast.


Say, Ben, perhaps you’d best tone down that talk about “insidious sources.”