Tag Archives: Shayne Spence

Let’s go to the 990

Okay, so I spent part of Monday (maybe five, ten minutes all told) in a slow-motion Tweetchat with the fine folks at the Ethan Allen Institute. At one point, whoever Tweets on behalf of EAI accused me of lying about its connection with the Koch empire. And I pointed out that it wasn’t a lie, just a mistake.

Then came the following exchange:

Dunno what they mean by “solution” there, but the whole Tweet is kind of inartful. Anyway, @EAIVT asked if I had consulted its IRS Form 990, the annual filing required of nonprofit organizations.

Well, I hadn’t checked the 990 because I knew it was irrelevant to my assertion. Nonprofits aren’t required to disclose revenue sources, so nothing in EAI’s form would prove or disprove any Koch connection.

But hey, I’m open to suggestion, so I found EAI’s latest 990 — for tax year 2013 — as posted by the journalistic nonprofit ProPublica. (Where you can find the last several years’ worth, in fact.)

And as I thought, there’s no information about where the money comes from. But there are some interesting numbers to be found, and here’s a sampling.

In 2013, EAI took in $140,690 in “contributions, gifts, grants and similar amounts received,” plus another $60,000 in membership dues. Add in a bit here and there, and EAI revenue was $201,018.

Not bad, not bad. There’s no further information about the sources of that $201, 018, nothing to prove or disprove any financial dependence on the Kochs or the State Policy Network or other out-of-state corporate interests.

Unfortunately, EAI was a deficit spender in 2013. It racked up expenses of $224,290. Fortunately, it began the year with a positive balance of $43,021, so it ended the year in the black.

Yay!

On to Part III, “Statement of Program Service Accomplishments,” a.k.a. EAI’s nonprofit fig leaf. The IRS requires a list of the organization’s three primary programs. Here’s the EAI list:

— $72,200 for “Two daily radio programs on WDEV Radio Vermont.” This includes John McClaughry’s Daily Diatribe (I think that’s what they call it); and the hour-long “Common Sense Radio,” which causes massive tuneout at the end of the Mark Johnson Show every weekday at 11.

Well, now we know why the folks at WDEV put up with that drivel. They are well paid to put up with that drivel. And they get a better deal than we do; thanks to EAI’s tax-exempt status, we are all paying, indirectly, for the glories of “Common Sense Radio.”

— $44,205 for something called the Energy Education Project, which “promotes intelligent energy choices in Vermont through a daily blog, a website and educational events.” Gee, I’d never heard of this endeavor before. So I searched for “Energy Education Project Vermont,” and there it was.

However, it hasn’t been updated in a very long time. The top item on its homepage is entitled “Entergy Announces That Vermont Yankee Will Close in October 2014.” Checking the Google, I see that Entergy made that announcement in August of 2013.

Pretty sad, for EAI’s number-two Service Accomplishment.

— $47,000 for a variety of programs, not a single entry. These include the montlhly Ethan Allen Letter; a series of opinion pieces offered gratis to Vermont media outlets; “public meetings and educational seminars”; and a transparency website jointly maintained with the Public Assets Institute. Now there’s an odd couple.

On to Part IV, a list of officers and key employees. Oh boy, salary disclosure!

EAI President Rob Roper pulled down $50,000 last year, slightly under Vermont’s median income. Hey look, he’s middle class!

Vice President John McClaughry made $24,000 and his wife Anne made $18,000 as Secretary/Treasurer, plus another $5500 combined for “Health benefits, contributions to employee benefit plans, and deferred compensation.”

Bill Sayre, member of the Board of Directors, made $9600, presumably for hosting Common Sense Radio. None of the other directors (Wendy Wilton, Jack McMullen, Catherine Clark, John Cueman, Milt Eaton) was paid.

Finally, the caboose on EAI’s very short gravy train is occupied by Shayne Spence, who was paid $6000 to serve as “Outreach Coordinator.” I don’t know whether this includes the compensation he received as a Koch Summer Fellow in 2013, but that’s a thing that exists.

I’ll skip over several boring pages, which brings me to Schedule A, Part III, which lists total “Public Support” for the five preceding years. During that time, EAI took in a total of $784,910. The totals for 2009 through 2013 go:

$151,775; $155,225; $171,565; $105,345; and $201,000.

Don’t know what happened in 2012, but there you are. In addition to the “public support,” EAI has made a few hundred bucks every year from “interest, dividends” and other non-donor sources.

Well, that was fun. It did nothing to illuminate the sources of EAI’s money or to settle the question of whether it has financial ties to the State Policy Network and other Koch- and Koch-like operations, or whether its ties are purely ideological.

Too bad, as I wrote earlier: we really need more transparency in the nonprofit world. If EAI could show that it really is a home-grown organization that gets the bulk of its financing from Vermonters, that would lend it some credibility.

Your First Amendment right to be a complete weenie

A moment of Statehouse drama from Thursday, as captured in a series of Tweets.

First, to introduce the players. Shap Smith, Speaker of the House; Darcie Johnston, political consultant to lost conservative causes; and Shayne Spence, lesser functionary in the Ethan Allen Institute, available for parties and bar mitzvahs whenever Rob Roper has a schedule conflict.

And now, let’s go to the Tweets!

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Let’s briefly note the self-aggrandizing Tweet from Spence. Ooh! Threatened by the Speaker! What a rush!

That brings us to Shap’s reply, which may be a bit unclear because of Twitter’s unforgiving character limit. What he’s saying is that Spence wasn’t just filming the House chambers — he was doing so from the Senate seats, the row of ornately carved chairs with bright red cushions along the front wall of the House.

Of course, filming from there is “not typically allowed.” The video cameras are typically posted at one end of the balcony, far from the House floor and the podium. Bringing a video camera to the Senate seats is a brazen violation of protocol. But that’s what I’d expect from a self-important James O’Keefe wannabe who thinks he’s the living embodiment of everyone’s Constitutional rights.

And if you think that assessment is a little harsh, here is Spence’s rejoinder to Smith.

Yes indeed, Shayne, keeping the People’s House open is very important. But that has nothing to do with a narcissistic operative taking his camera wherever he damn well pleases.

Every legislative body has rules, procedures, and mores. Partly they help things run smoothly; partly they’re antiquated remainders of tradition. But they do nothing to prevent access, and they should be observed out of respect to the institution.

Let’s just hope he tries the same thing in the Senate, which has tighter rules than the House. He’ll be tossed without a moment’s hesitation.

Yes, it got worse for Vermont Republicans. Except Phil.

Notes and musings from the August 18 campaign finance report filings…

Governor Shumlin is in cruise control. His campaign raised another $67,000 this time, and spent only $11,000. He has almost $1.13 million in the bank.

Scott Milne continues to falter. He raised $22,370 this time, compared to $20,000 last time. That pace won’t get him anywhere near his stated goal of $200,000. And his total was again buoyed considerably by the Boies family: $2K from a Christopher Boies, $2K from daddy Boies’ law firm, and $2K from an LLC whose address is the same as the daddy Boies law firm. For those keeping track, the collective Boieses have donated $16,000 of Milne’s total of $42K. He also raised $2K from Altour International, a high-end travel agency based in New York. His biggest in-state donor was the Wayside Restaurant, which donated $2K. That’s a lot of ham and eggs.

Milne spent $28,000 in the past month, of which more than $18K went to campaign manager Brent Burns’ consulting firm.

— The alleged Republican upstart, Libertarian Dan Feliciano, reported raising $13,000. Sounds decent, but $10K of that came from Dan himself. He had only a handful of other donors — notably getting $200 from Republican Treasurer Mark “Little Snell” Snelling. There’s no sign of a Feliciano bandwagon to be found in his finance report.

— The Vermont Republican Party is still in the doldrums, raising $2,420 in the past month.

— The only Republican doing really well is Lieutenant Governor Phil Scott who, challenged by Progressive Dean Corren’s public financing, put his fundraising operation into high gear and pulled in $52,000 in the past month. He didn’t spend a whole lot, and has $120,000 in cash on hand. He got plenty of cash from construction firms (his line of work) and from some of his turncoat friends in the Senate Democratic majority — a total of $2500 from Dick and Dorothy Mazza, and $200 from “Bobby Star,” who I believe is actually State Sen. Bobby Starr.

Scott’s doing well for himself, but to judge from the latest reports, he ain’t lifting a finger for his beloved VTGOP.

Vermonters First, which spent a million Broughton Bucks in 2012, is still in hibernation. Raised zero, spent $25 for a bank account.

— Lenore Broughton did open her checkbook for a few Republican candidates and gave $2K to the Common Sense Leadership PAC. Said PAC didn’t raise any other money but managed to spend $3500 on consultants. Namely $2K to Shayne Spence, a staffer at the Ethan Allen Institute, and $1500 to Elizabeth Metraux who is apparently the PR person for Vermont PBS.

— Republicrat Senate hopeful Roger Allbee pulled in a decent $4760 this time around for a grand total of $6K. His total take included a nice $1,000 donation from soon-to-be-ex-Senator Peter Galbraith. The Slummin’ Solon, who has publicly endorsed Allbee, was nonetheless chosen to moderate one of the four Windham County Democratic Senatorial candidate forums, a curious move to be sure. (During that debate, he reportedly got into an argument with fellow Senator Jeanette White. Not very statesmanlike or diplomatic, Petey.)

— Celebrity tidbit: The aforementioned Senator White can brag of a $100 donation from Mr. Tom Bodett. Leavin’ the light on for ya!