Tag Archives: Jane Sanders

Something Stupid This Way Comes

Yep, it’s time again for another round of The Veepies, our awards for stupidity and/or obtuseness in the public sphere. Got a lovely crop of stupid on offer.

First, we have the It Worked So Splendidly Last Time, Let’s Run It Back Again Award, which goes to the folks responsible for exhuming the cold, rotting carcass of the Sanders Institute. Yep, the Sanders clan’s vanity project think tank is once again open for business, thanks to a big fat chunk o’change from… wait for it… the Bernie Sanders campaign! Gotta do something with all those $27 gifts they couldn’t manage to spend during the actual election season.

For those just joining us, the Sanders Institute was founded in 2016 by Jane Sanders and her son David Driscoll, who — mirabile dictu — emerged from what I’m sure was an exhaustive nationwide search to become SI’s executive director. Well, the Institute posted a bunch of essays (mostly recycled from other media) on its website and had one big conference in 2018, but was shut down in May 2019, sez the AP, “amid criticism that the nonprofit has blurred the lines between family, fundraising and campaigning.” Ya think?

There are a few differences between the original and SI 2.0. Sanders comms guy Mike Cesca told VPR that none of the campaign’s money would go toward pay or bennies for Sanders family members. Which is kind of an admission that they screwed up the first time.

Also, two different spokespeople made reference to “the transition” from winning votes to educating people, which makes you think he’s not running for president again, and makes you wonder whether he’ll run for another Senate term in 2024. The new Institute will also include an archive of Sanders and his family… hmm, sounds like a think tank vanity project.

After the jump: A daycare misfire, a self-inflicted social media disappearance, and incompetent fiber installers.

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The (rotten) apple doesn’t fall far from the (poisoned) tree

Hey, good morning, everybody! What say we get the blood circulating with a brisk round of dumpster diving, led by Your Vermont Republican Party Vice Chair Brady Toensing?

We’re talking about the Jane Sanders brouhaha, which re-entered our attention yesterday with the release of Skip Vallee’s attack ad against Jane and Bernie. Skippy’s ad focuses on Jane Sanders’ severance deal with Burlington College: after her departure as President, she received about $200,000 in salary and benefits. Which The Gas Man characterized as a “golden parachute.”

Well, apparently Mr. Vallee didn’t come up with this idea on his own.

The Sanders Severance (by Robert Ludlum?) was reported by the media at the time of her departure, but it’s come back amidst the ollege’s latest troubles, including the sudden resignation of Sanders’ successor, Christine Plunkett. And, as VTDigger reports:

[Burlington College’s] financial struggles surfaced in the media last month when Brady Toensing, the vice chairman of the Vermont GOP, passed financial audits of the college to local media.

Oh Brady, you little scamp you.

Toensing’s backdoor mudslinging, I hear, included references to Jane Sanders’ “golden parachute.” In sharing the BC audits, he was clearly trying to highlight Sanders’ alleged role in the college’s current difficulties. Unfortunately, he didn’t get the bang he was expecting for his buck:

The severance pay of $200,000 was a year’s worth of earned but unused sabbatical, she said Wednesday. That pay and her title of president emeritus were announced when she resigned, and were covered in media accounts at the time.

Yeah, sorry, Brady. No scandal here.

Okay, this is pretty standard political hardball — conducting opposition research and slipping tidbits to the media in hopes of generating negative press for your opponents. I’ve gotten my share of tips from both sides of the metaphorical aisle; some have panned out, some have not. However, there’s a difference between sliming a politician and going after a spouse.

And it’s worth pointing out that Toensing’s activities are of a piece with his parents’ notorious scandalmongering on the national scale. Mom and Pop — Victoria Toensing and Joe diGenova by name — are frequent guests on Fox News, flogging various Obama conspiracy theories. Vic and Joe are D.C. lawyers, and Brady is a partner in their well-connected (in conservative circles) law firm.  (Details in this Golden Oldie post from Green Mountain Daily, which also details Brady’s political relationship with putative good guy Brian Dubie.)

Apparently he learned his stuff rom Mom and Pop. We look forward to more of Mr. Toensing’s political statesmanship. And maybe putative nice guy Phil Scott can explain why he thinks the junior Toensing is a proper representation of Vermont Republican values. Seems like not quite The Vermont Way, eh?

Skip Vallee is a bitter man

Oh, Rodolphe. Why can’t you just tend to your knitting? I actually like stopping at your gas stations, with their clean (!) restrooms tastefully decorated with fake flowers and chairs nobody ever sits in.

But please, let go of your Bernie Sanders fetish.

As you may recall, Our Junior Senator has made a big stink about high gas prices in Chittenden County, pointing the finger at the cartel that owns most of the area’s gas stations. Skippy, the frustrated politician wannabe, fired back — challenging Bernie to a debate. Bernie, rightfully, ignored him.

And wouldn’t you know it, after Bernie’s public splash, Burlington-area gas Skipprices came down. At least for a while. Now, as the Burlington Free Press reported, they’ve gone back up. Gotta pay for all those plastic flowers somehow.

Well, now Skip has turned his grudge into a political ad criticizing Bernie over the Burlington College mess. Bernie’s wife Jane is a former BC president, and it’s fair to say that her grandiose expansion plans played a part in the college’s current financial difficulties. The ad is on YouTube now, but Vallee plans to run it on local TV. The ad ad blasts Bernie and Jane for getting a “golden parachute” from Burlington College.

A “golden parachute” worth… wait for it…

… $200,000.

Really more of a zinc parachute, isn’t it?

Not that 200 G’s is anything to sneeze at, but it’s perfectly reasonable in comparison to severance packages given to top executives — even at nonprofits. And by corporate standards, well, it’s pocket change.

But that’s not my real point here. The main thing is, Vallee spending thousands of dollars to run an ad with no real purpose. Bernie’s not up for re-election until 2018, for God’s sake.

Skip’s spending Your Gas-Buying Dollars to toss a little gratuitous mud at Bernie Sanders, apparently because Bernie dared to point out that Vallee and his cronies were profiting from artificially high gas prices. And because Bernie’s campaign worked — forcing Skippy and Friends to, at least temporarily, bring their prices down.

Revenge is a dish best served out of a convenience-store microwave. Am I right, Skippy?