Tag Archives: Dubois Construction

Lost in the weeds

Sue Minter seems to be spending a lot of time lately trying to out-ethics Phil Scott. After he announced he would sell his stake in Dubois Construction if elected governor, she continued to pound on potential conflicts of interest. Now, she’s returning campaign donations from a lawyer connected to the scandal-plagued EB-5 developments ni the Northeast Kingdom.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think this is a waste of time and unlikely to resonate with voters. It’s the kind of stuff that political insiders (and us outsiders who obsess about politics) care about, but I seriously question whether the voters do.

Besides which, trying to blacken Scott’s reputation is a mug’s game. He’s such a familiar figure with such a positive image; you’re not likely to change people’s minds unless there’s an October Surprise lurking in Scott’s closet.

Better, in my mind, to focus on the issues, where Scott is weakest.

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Phil’s Conflict (UPDATED)

UPDATE: He did it! He chose Option 1A — he will sell his share in Dubois Construction if he wins the governorship. Full credit to him for doing the right thing. And no, I don’t feel sorry for him possibly having to exit the family firm he’s spent most of his adult life in; his share of the firm is worth two and a half million dollars. That’ll buy an awful lot of binkies. 

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Kudos to Mr. Leadership Phil Scott for unveiling his conflict-of-interest fix at the friendliest possible venue — his construction firm’s annual picnic. Ah yes: burgers, dogs, potato salad, Daddy Pops, frisbees, sack races, football tossin’, and the long-awaited announcement of how he will handle the inherent conflict of owning a firm that regularly bids on state contracts.

“One of these things is not like the others…”

This isn’t the first time he’s tried to settle this particular issue, which tells me his past solutions have failed to satisfy. The fact that he’ll make this announcement before a crowd of family, friends, and folks on his payroll doesn’t fill me with confidence about how he’ll handle it this time.

Heck, I don’t know if he’ll even take questions. Even if there is an opportunity, the occasion certainly won’t be conducive to aggressive questioning; any reporters who get uppity are likely to be shouted down by the Scottophiliac audience.

All of which leads me to expect some kind of half-assed, modestly tweaked version of his laughable “blind trust.” If so, well, he might have to try yet again.

In my mind, there are only two credible choices for him. That is, if he really wants to eliminate any appearance of conflict. I don’t expect him to choose either one.

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@VTGOP: The King and no court

So the inevitable happened in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Phil Scott won.

The sad thing is, Bruce Lisman actually did pretty darn good. He got all the way from four percent in a February poll to 39 percent in the primary. That’s respectable, really.

But it leaves you wondering, again, what the hell? Why did Lisman challenge the widely-beloved Republican Great White Hope? Why did he pump two million Bruce Bucks into a doomed effort?

Mmm, smooth. (Photo by Mike Polhamus of VTDigger.)

Mmm, smooth. (Photo by Mike Polhamus of VTDigger.)

He does have some lovely bottled water to show for it. That’ll taste nice, as a visual reminder of the second-worst day of his life. (And a metaphorical reminder of how he flushed a fortune down the drain on a wasteful, futile candidacy.)

I’m assuming his worst day was when Bear Stearns collapsed, although this is a more directly personal ignominy. The Wall Street meltdown was merely a global calamity; this is the people of Vermont telling you to your face, “We don’t want you, now please go away.”

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Bruce’s Worst Investment, and Other Gleanings from Campaign Finance Day

So, finally, we get our second window into the money game behind the primary campaigns. A few toplines:

— Bruce Lisman is spending gobs of cash and getting bupkis in return

— Phil Scott’s chugging along; will have to pick up the pace after the primary

— Sue Minter pulls ahead in the Democratic fundraising game

— Matt Dunne’s early momentum slows a bit

— Peter Galbraith is keeping his own campaign alive. Barely

And now, the details.

Wall Street millionaire Bruce Lisman has put $1.6 million of his own money into his campaign, raised precious little money from others, and has been spending at a blistering pace. He’s raised more than $1.8 million, but he has less than $200,000 cash on hand.

Well, he can always write more checks.

But let’s stop for a moment and savor the fact that Bruce Lisman has already spent more money than any gubernatorial candidate in Vermont history — and the primary is still three and a half weeks away. And he places dismally in the available polls.

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Phil Scott needs a good financial advisor

Our Lieutenant Governor and putative gubernatorial front-runner, Phil Scott, released his financials on Monday. He’s worth three million dollars and some change.

Which sounds like a lot, but then you get to the details. The vast majority of his wealth — more than 80 percent of it — consists of his half-share in DuBois Construction, the family contracting firm that does a lot of business with the state of Vermont.

Now I understand why he’s been so reluctant to part ways with DuBois, even at risk of ethical entanglements: that firm IS his financial lifeline. Which, if he were less than a thoroughly honest man, would provide ample temptation to stack the deck in favor of DuBois when state contracts go out for bid.

Might be nice to have an Ethics Commission to handle such things, but c’est la vie.

I’m not usually too big on candidates’ financials; releasing them is a formality, and it’s extremely rare that they contain any surprises. But there was one number that stuck out like a sore thumb: his retirement and savings accounts add up to $192,290.

A hundred and ninety thousand dollars, any financial advisor will tell you, is barely a start toward a comfortable retirement. In fact, it’s grossly inadequate for a man in his late 50s.

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Ways of seeing a blind trust

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s announcement that he will run for governor came with a side dish of confusion, for those who scanned more than one account of the event.

At issue: what he will do with his half-ownership of Dubois Construction, which frequently bids on state contracts. Keeping an active hand in the business would be a pretty clear conflict of interest; the still-hypothetical Governor Scott would, after all, be filling positions in the Agency of Transportation and could presumably bring influence to bear on his firm’s behalf. Or even, perish the thought, provide inside info that would help Dubois submit winning bids.

But we all know Phil Scott, the golden boy of Vermont politics, would never do such a thing. Everybody knows good ol’ Phil, right?

Yeah, just like the State Senate didn’t know it was harboring a[n alleged] serial rapist until state troopers arrested good ol’ Norm McAllister on the grounds of the Statehouse. Point being, you never really know, do you?

That’s why we have ethics rules and laws. Well, most states do, anyway.

Apparently, when asked about the conflict question, good ol’ Phil gave different answers to different reporters.

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