Tag Archives: contingency lawsuits

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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One Neat Trick To Investigate Bill Sorrell (two, actually)

SorrellZevonThe cloud of questionable campaign finance activities hangs heavy around the head of Our Eternal General Bill Sorrell. Fortunately for himself, his peripheral vision isn’t so great, so he’s blissfully unaware that the storm is gathering and everyone around him is scurrying for cover.

Today brings an editorial from Vermont’s best daily newspaper, the Valley News (okay, technically a bi-state newspaper), calling for an independent probe of Sorrell’s iffy doings.

The editorial quotes Sorrell’s heartwarming assurances: “It’s unfortunately that there are questions about whether there was undue influence. I know there was no undue influence.” The News has a stiletto-sharp rejoinder:

We guess it’s reassuring that in his heart, Sorrell knows he’s right. … On the other hand, the allegations are not so far-fetched that “take my word for it” is an adequate response from the state’s chief law enforcement officer, whose position and power are such that his or her integrity needs to be above reproach.

However, in the absence of any action by Governor Shumlin — or any semblance of concern, frankly — the only folks who could mount an independent investigation are our State’s Attorneys. Well, one or more of them.

There are two problems with that scenario. Continue reading