Tag Archives: Carol Breuer

Already, The Mask Slips

Vermont’s tiny but determined anti-abortion cohort had it all figured out. Instead of the usual frontal attack about baby-killing and “Before I formed thee, I knew thee” and implicit slut-shaming, they were going to make a disguised, indirect attack on Article 22. It was all lies, but at least it was subtle.

To carry this through November 8, however, would require a level of self-restraint not usually present among the committed pro-lifers. And sure enough, they couldn’t even make it to Labor Day before letting the mask slip.

The above is a mailer distributed by “Vermonters for Good Government,” the front organization set up by Right to Life Vermont and their deep-pocketed friends Lenore Broughton, Carol Breuer and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which apparently emerged from the financial crisis of the child sexual abuse scandal with enough scratch to throw $50,000 into the anti-Article 22 dumpster.

The mailer reverts to classic punch-in-the-face anti-abortion style: LATE-TERM ABORTION in 120-point type, fetal images designed to show how innocent and defenseless they are, references to fetuses as “babies,” and a layout that would make a professional designer hang their head in shame.

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If Lenore Broughton Had a Clue, She Could be Dangerous

Reclusive Montgomery Ward heiress Lenore Broughton, who must be referred to as “reclusive heiress” under the immutable laws of journalism, is by a longshot the most generous conservative donor in Vermont.

She is, of course, a modestly-sized frog in a tiny pond. She’s nowhere near the DeVoses or Uihleins of the world. But in Vermont, she’s got enough muscle to move our political center of gravity to the right.

Fortunately, she has no idea how to effectively spend her money. She wastes a lot of it on fruitless ventures, outmoded ideas, and candidates who are far too conservative to make any difference in public office even if they win. (What should she do instead? Read on, my friend.)

Most recent example: Broughton donated a cool $100,000 to Vermonters for Good Government Action, the thinly-veiled anti-abortion group trying to defeat Article 22. In a year when 59% of voters in goddamn Kansas refused to open the door to abortion restrictions, what hope is there of prevailing in deep blue Vermont?

You might chalk that up to unshakable belief. Broughton probably can’t help but spend heavily against reproductive rights. But how do you explain her bankrolling True North Reports, that seldom-read outpost of conservative commentary and “news”? There’s no way to know how much she spends on TNR because it’s a private venture, but it must be quite a lot. The return isn’t a bang for her bucks; it’s more like a wet fart.

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Vermont’s Anti-Abortion Movement Just Acknowledged It Can’t Win

The Vermont Right to Life Committee, which has led the losing battle against abortion in our state for decades, is strangely absent from the campaign over Article 22.

Or so it would seem.

In a tacit acknowledgment that their brand is irredeemably tainted, anti-abortion activists have gone under cover. They’ve created a new group with the anodyne monicker of Vermonters for Good Government Action to lead the fight against Article 22. They’ve adopted rhetoric that never expresses blanket opposition to abortion. No fetus pictures, nothing whatsoever about life beginning at conception, no screaming about The Abortion Industry.

Because hey, who could possibly oppose Good Government Action?

But look at who’s funding this thing: ultraconservative donor Lenore Broughton has dropped a cool $100,000, ardent prolife donor Carol Breuer gave $50,000, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington, which long ago forfeited any claim to moral superiority, kicked in another 50 G’s. The rest of the human race donated a total of $14,039.

Also, there on the “Treasurer” line of VGGA’s campaign finance filing is the name “Sharon Toborg,” who is merely the second most prominent (behind Mary Beerworth) anti-abortion activist in Vermont and a stalwart leader of Vermont Right to Life.

The one to watch is Broughton, who once spent more than a million bucks in a futile bid to swing the 2012 election for the Republicans. She could top that figure easily. I think we should expect that she will.

The problem with Broughton’s backing is, well, it’s kind of a curse.

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I’m sure David Zuckerman is shaking in his boots

Hey, everybody! Meet Meg Hansen, writer, consultant, low-budget TV show host, and now a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor.

Hansen is a bright young woman with a compelling backstory who you might recall as a communications staffer for the Vermont House Republican caucus in 2016-17. After that, she spent about a year as head of Vermonters for Health Care Freedom, the right-wing advocacy group that’s had no discernible influence on the health care debate. Otherwise, Hansen’s public activities are largely confined to the off-hours of community access television.

She is a devout conservative who believes in the power of unfettered capitalism to float everybody’s boat. Her vision would remake Vermont along the lines of America’s reddest states.

“The American Dream is alive and well in states like Texas and North Carolina but not in Vermont,” she writes on her campaign website. At the risk of being churlish, I’d ask if she sees the American Dream doing well in states like Mississippi and Kansas, which have low taxes and little regulation but are economically stagnant.

She’s opposed to Obamacare and other health care reform efforts; her solution is to let the free market do its magic — giving all Vermonters the chance to buy overpriced, crappy, exception-laden insurance policies. She’s not a fan of fighting climate change or climate activists, who “use the specter of climate catastrophe to demonize us as polluters-parasites on earth,” and whose proposed solutions are “immoral.”

She also favors the “freedom to vape,” which, okay then.

You get the idea. It’s precisely the kind of hard-core conservative platform that’s been a consistent, lopsided loser in Vermont.

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What if Phil Scott loses?

In my second-most-recent post, I listed all the bad news visited upon Vermont Republicans over the past few days. I ended by asking “What if Phil Scott loses?”

I’ll get to that question, but in the meantime, WCAX released its own poll showing Scott with a seven-point lead over Sue Minter, which has triggered much rejoicing Chez Phil.

In his lede, WCAX’s usually reliable Kyle Midura made an unwarranted inference: since the VPR Poll had shown a statistical dead heat, the TV poll shows that Scott is “pulling ahead.”

Which, c’mon now. These are two polls from different organizations with possibly differing methodologies. (We don’t know because WCAX hasn’t released any details. VPR has disclosed all of that.) Drawing that direct a line between the two polls is misleading at best.

What we have are two data points. One (VPR) from an in-state academic polling outfit, one (WCAX) from a New Jersey-based for-profit firm.

Pollster Paul Braun engaged in some speculation that ought to unnerve those placing a lot of weight on his survey. He credited the WCAX gubernatorial debate for driving Scott’s alleged momentum — when, in fact, debate audiences tend to be very small, and the impact of debates on public opinion is also small. (Unless you pull a Trump, of course.) There is no evidence to support Braun’s assertion.

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Big donors, big money in targeted House districts

Two years ago, the Republican State Leadership Committee funneled $370,000 into Vermont, backing candidates in close races for the Vermont House. The VTGOP won several of those seats and took away the Democrats’ supermajority status.

So far this year, the RSLC has spent a lot less. But a handful of closer-to-home moneybags have taken matters into their own hands. They’ve donated more than $100,000 to individual Republican House candidates and House Minority Leader Don Turner’s political action committee.

In the small-dollar world of State House campaigns, that’s a huge amount of money.

First, a hat tip to Green Mountain Daily’s Sue Prent, who reported on the Franklin County iteration of this phenomenon a couple weeks ago. Turns out, it’s only part of a bigger pattern. But because the money is broadly dispersed, the pattern has attracted little attention.

Two of the donors are familiar names to anyone who follows Vermont politics. The other two might be new to you.

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