The headline is dramatic. “Former campaign staffer sues Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brenda Siegel for unpaid wages, expenses.” Wow, sounds serious.
Well, it’s not. In fact, the story is so bereft of substance that it makes you wonder how it got published at all.
For starters, the “former campaign staffer,” Bryan Parks, worked for the Siegel campaign for less than a month. The amount of money in question is less than $600.
Six hundred dollars.
Reporter Sarah Mearhoff, who will not be submitting this shitball for any journalism prizes, gives over the first six paragraphs to Parks’ account, his disillusionment with the candidate, his insistence that it’s not about the money, and how he waited until after the election to file his suit “so as not to appear politically motivated.”
And only then, after Parks is given all that space, do we get Siegel’s response: “No, I don’t owe him any money. He is completely paid up.”
Well, there you go, right? Game, set, match, right?
Running update: Sen. Brian Campion, named below as having failed to file, did actually file. Four other lawmakers — Sen. Phil Baruth and Reps. Martin Lalonde, Emily Long and Seth Chase — say they zeroed out their accounts after the 2020 election and have neither raised nor spent more than $500 since, so they don’t have to file.
Updated update. I haven’t heard from any more lawmakers (so far), but I’ve written a second post explaining this exemption in more detail.
Well, if Jim Condos won’t do it, and Sarah Mearhoff won’t do it, I guess I have to.
Allow me to explain.
Last Friday, VTDigger’s always informative Final Reading kicked off with an item about lawmakers failing to abide by the law. Specifically, dozens of them have yet to file campaign finance reports that were due on March 15. Secretary of State Condos sent an email to lawmakers asking that they comply but refused to identify the scofflaws, saying “I can’t be their babysitter,” which kind of implies that they need one. Reporter Mearhoff also demurred from naming names, but teasingly said “I know who you are.”
Gee, and here I thought it was a reporter’s job to tell us what they know. Maybe space reasons? After all, the list of noncompliers is 69 names long. That’s almost 40% of the 180 “public servants” in the Legislature. Forty percent.
Mearhoff also reminded us that when the Legislature wrote the law, it refused to include any penalties for failing to file. That’s pretty standard fare for laws touching on their own interests; lawmakers jealously guard their privileges when it comes to campaign finance and ethics and reapportionment and such. Which leaves us with the plastic épée of public shaming, which rarely manages to penetrate a lawmaker’s skin.
Before I get to naming names, I should say that any mistakes are my responsibility and I will gladly make corrections if any of those listed below can show that they did, in fact, file as required by law. Also, this list was made on the morning of April 5; any reports filed after that are not reflected below.