Tag Archives: sex criminals in the Senate

Ladies and gentlemen, the comedy stylings of John Campbell!

Looks like it’s in the bag. When the State Senate meets Wednesday, it will vote to suspend Norm McAllister, self-admitted sex criminal, from his seat. Not expel him, not allow him to serve, but to consign him (they hope) to political limbo until his criminal trial wraps up — almost certainly after the end of this year’s legislative session, and perhaps after the official beginning of campaign season. (Candidate filing deadline is May 28. Criminal proceedings likely to still be pending. Will Norm file for re-election?)

The rationale: Expelling McAllister might compromise his trial, but we can’t simply let him continue to serve. Which would seem to be a contradiction: he should be presumed innocent, but he’s unfit to serve in the Senate.

Whaa?

It also leaves the people of Franklin County as the real victims. They will lose one of their two state Senators for an entire session, but they will also continue to live with the very real stain of officially being represented by Norm McAllister. Suspension is the convenient way out for the Senate, but it ignores the interests of absolutely everyone in Franklin County — Democrat, Republican, Independent; pro-McAllister or anti.

Our Pro Tem, thinking deep thoughts.

Our Pro Tem, thinking deep thoughts.

Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell addressed the situation in his usual meandering, impenetrably filibustering style in a podcast interview with VTDigger’s Mark Johnson. As a public service, I listened carefully to the uncontrollable torrent of Campbellian verbiage and, painful though it was, transcribed it for your reading pleasure. (His answer to Johnson’s initial question on McAllister took more than six full minutes. I had to stop transcribing after about five — I simply couldn’t take any more.)

And now, the annotated John Campbell.

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Senate closes ranks around Good Ol’ Norm

Like the frog in the hot water, I guess you can get used to anything if it happens slowly enough.

This week’s “Fair Game” column from Seven Days’ Paul Heintz is a substantial piece of work. He managed to contact almost every state senator and get them on the record regarding their disgraced/disgraceful colleague, Norm McAllister. Highly recommended reading, although it might make you shoot coffee out your nose.

And surprise, surprise: over the last several months, the air has gone out of the “Get Rid of Norm” balloon. Indeed, the person who seems to have suffered the most from this affair is Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning, who’s been leading the charge to expel McAllister. Many of his fellows blame him for being too aggressive, and Heintz reports that the issue has fractured the Republican Senate caucus.

Which just reinforces my view of the State Senate: it’s a clubby, tradition-bound institution whose members have an excessively high regard for themselves and not nearly enough concern for, oh, serving the people and stuff like that.

According to Heintz, the conversation has moved away from expulsion and toward the possibility of suspending McAllister pending the outcome of his criminal trial. Which, c’mon, is a weaksauce idea intended to diffuse the pressure and provide a pretext for barring McAllister from the Statehouse. Because when push comes to shove, the thing they’re most worried about is the media circus of McAllister showing up for work, and reporters badgering Senators with uncomfortable questions. Here’s a good one:

“Senator Mullin, you shared a house with Senator McAllister. You saw him take his teenaged “assistant” to bed every night. She has said that McAllister raped her ‘every time I went down there… just about.’ You’re an intelligent man; how could you possibly be unaware of what was happening under your own roof?”

(Mullin, by the way, was one of the few Senators who failed to response to Seven Days’ inquiry. Brave man.)

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