Tag Archives: Brent Burns

The other Gun Show

Last night’s Statehouse hearing on gun registration didn’t interest me much; the fate of the bill is a foregone conclusion (it’s dead), and the hearing was just a bit of political theater. But there were some entertaining moments on Twitter that I’ve plucked from the everflowing Tweetstream.

The Ethan Allen Institute, for example, got all poetical.

Aww. They’re right, you know. An inanimate object can’t initiate violence. But a gun is one hell of an expediter.

There was this bit of reportage from the Vermont Press Bureau’s Josh O’Gorman, revealing which side of the debate cornered the market on boorishness.

My favorite, though, was a brief dominance display by two of the lesser players in the 2014 election season. First, consistently losing political consultant Darcie Johnston, chief flag-waver for Dan Feliciano’s doomed campaign; and second, Brent Burns, who briefly helmed the Scott Milne effort.

Ooh, scorch! The “4%” is, of course, a reference to Feliciano’s underwhelming share of the vote. Ball’s in your court, Ms. Johnston.

“#navysniper”? A bit of resume inflation, perhaps? Feliciano did serve in the Navy, but according to one source, he “spent six years as a sonar technician.” Yeah, well, sonar/sniper, same diff. Mr. Burns begs to differ.

After this, the two parties adjourned the contest. Burns resisted the temptation to add “[mic drop],” which he would have been absolutely justified in doing. Johnston returned to her lair to, presumably, plot strategery for Feliciano’s 2016 campaign.

Next time, six percent!

Milne Campaign: The Cloud of Doom grows thicker

As I said on Twitter, “Holy stinkin’ crap.”

Two months after Brent Burns signed on to manage Republican Scott Milne’s gubernatorial campaign, he is gone.

“I resigned Friday,” Burns confirmed Monday.

The Freeploid’s Nancy Remsen quotes Burns as saying he “wanted to take a step back” after “working in super high stress jobs” for six years straight.

I have to wonder if a negative financial balance had anything to do with the sudden onset of stress fatigue. The Milne campaign’s most recent finance report showed that it had spent more than it had received in donations. Only a loan from Milne himself had kept the lights on and the checks from bouncing.

Both Burns and Milne say they will have no further comment on the departure, which only adds to the irrespsonsible speculation about rats leaving burning ships and such. But Milne insists his campaign won’t miss a beat — probably true, if not in the way he puts it.

As to being able to operate without a designated campaign manager, Milne said in a telephone interview, “We are a flat organization. Everyone has ownership and responsibilities.”

Yeah, “flat” as in roadkill.

Vermont Pundit Emeritus Eric Davis puts it more eloquently than I:

“My sense of the Milne campaign is it is running on fumes right now and depending on free media,” Davis said.

It’s getting to the point where you don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Milne Campaign Continues to Fumble Along

Scott Milne’s campaign for Governor has posted its latest campaign finance report, and it once again reflects a campaign that can’t raise money. 

Total donations, since the last filing deadline on August 18: $10,305. For his campaign so far: $53,000. 

Total expenditures: $33,000 since August 18, and $62,000 for the campaign. In other words, it’s two months until election day and the Milne campaign is in the red

Well, it would be, except that Milne loaned his own campaign $25,000. Which enabled him to pay his bills and keep the lights on. 

But wait, there’s more bad news within those numbers. Of the $10,305 total, $7,350 came from people named Milne or Milne-related businesses. The breakdown: 

$2,000 from Milne Travel

$2,000 from B&M Realty, the firm co-owned by Scott Milne and David Boies III

$2,000 from Donald Milne

$1,000 from George Milne

   $350 from Jonathan and Nancy Milne

Aside from that, Milne managed to raise less than $3,000. 

And he’s apparently tapped out the Boies Family connection. Not only were there no new donations from Boieses, the Milne campaign actually refunded a $2,000 donation previously given by Robin Boies of Naples, Florida. 

As for Milne’s pre-primary spending, he threw almost $19,000 into TV ads. He also paid another $4,600 to campaign manager Brent Burns’ firm “Pure Campaigns LLC.” And he spent $2,500 on his infamous Tele-Town Meeting. 

So here we are, at the launch point of Milne 2.0 — the time when he pivots from attacking Governor Shumlin’s record to finally, belatedly, rolling out his own policy ideas — and he’s in negative territory because he can’t fundraise his way out of a wet paper bag, and he had to go into debt just to fend off a write-in effort by a little-known Libertarian. 

I keep thinking it can’t get any worse, and then it does.

That and a buck will buy you a gubernatorial campaign

Scott Milne’s unconventional campaign for governor continues to be a rousing success.

Well, it does if being unconventional is your goal. Otherwise, not so much. In fact, the time has come for one of my Bold Predictions: the Milne candidacy is a Dead Man Walking. He’ll (probably) survive the primary, but not only will he lose to Governor Shumlin, he’ll lose in a landslide of epic proportions.

I’d feel sorry for a guy who volunteered to take one for the team that couldn’t find a candidate of its own, and a guy who lost his mother and business partner in mid-campaign. But he’s done himself no favors. He’s been surprisingly inarticulate with the media and singularly unappealing in person. He’s shedding potential supporters at an alarming rate, and he’s had virtually no success at in-state fundraising.

Milne’s decision to pull out of a debate sponsored by the Essex Republicans had one predictable effect: it pissed off the Essex Republicans who, per VTDigger, voted 97% for Libertarian Dan Feliciano in a straw poll.

Not that I’m buying into the low-level media narrative of a Feliciano groundswell; he’s not going to win the Republican primary, simply because it’s so hard for a write-in to beat someone whose name is on the ballot. And when VTDigger bruited the notion that “Feliciano has started to gain traction among [VTGOP] stalwarts,” the only names it could name were Darcie “Hack” Johnston and El Jefe General John McClaughry. That’s a start, I guess, but not a very impressive one. Johnston’s a proven loser with no electoral appeal, and McClaughry’s a crank. A personable fellow, but a crank.

But I can see why the narrative exists; Milne’s making such a dog’s breakfast of his campaign that, if not for Feliciano, there’d be precious little to report. But it’s not that Feliciano is surging; it’s that Milne continues to diminish like the tide at Fundy, leaving a thin film of sludge on the beach behind him.

But tonight’s the beginning of Milne’s second life: a “tele-town hall,” in which some number of Vermonters will presumably give up 90 minutes of their time to hear a brief address by Milne and maybe, possibly ask a question – if they pass muster with the event’s moderator, Milne’s two children. Cozy!

The event was preceded by a mass robo-call to 30,000 households inviting their participation. Event and robo-call presumably arranged by the good folks at Colorado-based Telephone TownHall Meeting, “Maximizing Results With Personalized Services” according to its website. Those services include tele-town halls and the preceding robo-calls, as they cheerfully describe:

As with our teletownhalls, we manage the details so you don’t have to. From script-writing to execution – TTHM produces a quality voice broadcast every time.  We edit your robocall audio for quality & clarity, and will even make the recording for you if you prefer.

No muss, no fuss. Which befits the off-the-rack style of the Milne effort. As the saying goes, there’s fast, cheap, and good. You can have any two you want, but you can’t get all three. Well, the Milne campaign has opted for fast and cheap. In addition to the prefab Town Hall, there’s the candidate’s first TV ad – consisting entirely of footage from his campaign launch event at Barre’s Aldrich Public Library.

The ready-madeness of the effort is understandable, considering the meager resources at campaign manager Brent Burns’ disposal. (Resources made even more meager once Burns pays himself his own consulting fees.) But not exactly the way to build a mass movement in a matter of months.

Money doesn’t buy everything, it’s true; and Milne supporters keep pointing to the stunning loss by Eric Cantor as proof. But Cantor was both rich and clueless, which Governor Shumlin is not; and Cantor’s opponent tapped into an existing reservoir of appeal, which Milne doesn’t have. And by appearances, he wouldn’t know how to tap if he had the chance.

So, done. Over. Finito.

Again, I feel bad for saying so; Scott Milne is a good businessman who’s grown his family business in tough times. But he’s turned out to be an appalling politician. I would have expected somewhat better, even for a near-novice, because he’s done well in a service profession. He must have some ability to communicate. But he hasn’t shown it since he entered politics.

And time, never his ally to begin with, has run out.

That “unconventional” Milne campaign is beginning to look awfully typical

When Scott “Mr. Bunny” Milne first announced his candidacy for Governor, I had some hope that he could be a different kind of candidate: exemplifying the new, more inclusive VTGOP, and also just providing a breath of fresh air in the stale provinces of same-ol’, same-ol’ campaign tactics and rhetoric.

Welp,things aren’t looking so good.

First of all, he dipped into the VTGOP’s “talent pool” — more like a puddle, really — for his campaign manager. Brent Burns, who barely managed to last a year on the party staff, will head the Milne campaign for a reported fee of $5,000 per month. It’s cheap by Darcie Johnston standards, anyway.

And if this week’s public statements are any indication, Milne is being dragged back into a standard-issue, kneejerk negative kind of campaign. He keeps this up for a few weeks, we won’t be able to tell him from Randy Brock. Blergh.

Today, VTDigger posted an opinion piece by Milne, outlining the rationale for his candidacy. It’s full of Republican blather about restoring balance to government, even as he fires wild volleys at the Democrats which, if true, ought to disqualify them from any leadership role whatsoever. He talks of the Dems’ “headling march into the unknown,” their effort to make Vermont “the most radical state in the union every day,” and their “wild dreams” as opposed to Milne’s level-headed, “common sense” approach. “Common sense” being a patented dog whistle for Vermont Republicans, basically meaning “let’s not do anything, and let’s do it slowly.”

And then he pines for the days when he “could comfortably sleep at night, knowing that the ship of state was stable.” So, we’re supposed to believe that Shumlin’s irresponsibility has turned Milne into an insomniac, like a passenger on the Titanic whose slumber is shattered by visions of giant icebergs? That kind of rhetoric might warm the cockles of Jack Lindley’s tiny heart, but it won’t do anything to win moderates and independents to Milne’s cause.

Milne also promises that most ancient of conservative canards, “a business approach to government.” As I’ve written before, over and over again, business and government are two different things. Every time a conservative, or rich man turned politician, tries to run government like a business, he discovers that it’s impossible. Businesses are responsible to shareholders and/or customers; governments are responsible to everybody, and have to do a lot of things the private sector would never do. So please, put that tired bit of rhetoric to bed.

Today also brought another installment of the Burlington Free Press’ breathless coverage of What Will IBM Do? The Freeploid gave plenty of space to Milne’s off-the-rack criticism of Governor Shumlin for allegedly chasing Big Blue away. Milne claimed that Shumlin was a big meanie who once dared confront an IBM executive over Vermont Yankee — in 2008! But that wasn’t enough exhumation for Mr. Bunny; he also dug up the dead horse of the Circumferential Highway, for God’s sake, and beat it around some more.

He also slammed the Governor for spending his time on the GMO bill “while thousands of families’ livelihoods are at risk.” As if the Governor can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. I’m just surprised Milne didn’t bring up Shumlin’s recent four-day vacation.

It’s all typical Republican nonsense; IBM’s decisions are being made on a global level with an eye toward maximizing profit. No amount of deal-cutting or road-building or smiley faces will have the least effect on the future of the Essex Junction facility.

And of course, Milne isn’t offering any solutions profounder than a smiley face: “My tone would have been a more business-friendly tone.”

Ah yes. A friendlier tone. That’d make all the difference.