Tag Archives: Vermont Democratic Party

Time to get serious about public campaign financing

So a federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of Vermont’s public financing law. Too bad he couldn’t rule on the ridiculousness of the law, because that decision would have gone very differently.

In the wake of his ruling, two things have to be addressed ASAP. First, the absurdly punitive $72,000 fine imposed on Dean Corren for a piddly-ass technical violation of the law. Imposed by that self-righteous hypocrite, Our Eternal General Bill Sorrell.

There is no way in Hell that Corren should have to imperil his personal finances because the Democratic Party included him in an e-mail message. The value of that “impermissible contribution”? $255, if I remember correctly.

Fining a guy $72,000 for what was, at most, a petty violation is like sending a guy to jail for not feeding the parking meter. It mocks the very concept of justice.

Okay, that’s number one, and I don’t care how we do it. If it involves a sock full of quarters applied to Sorrell’s noggin and a bit of backroom “persuasion,” so be it. Well, maybe the Darn Tough Convincer is a bit much; let’s just tase him. (He shouldn’t mind; given his record on police brutality cases, he must think getting tased is no big deal.)

The second issue is the public financing law itself. It’s a joke. It’s so restrictive that it seems designed to prevent candidates from using it.

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Whistling past the graveyard with the VTGOP

Here’s a happy headline in the Burlington Free Press.

Primary shows GOP ‘is very much revitalized’

The claim, from various party bigwigs, is that the emergent Phil Scott/Bruce Lisman primary “brings energy that we haven’t had” and “shows that the Republican Party in Vermont is very much revitalized.”

Well, pardon me, but I don’t buy it.

The party’s one and only viable statewide politician, Phil Scott, is finally running for governor. And a rich guy has talked himself into a candidacy. That’s it.

The fact of a gubernatorial primary proves nothing about the state of the VTGOP. Now, if they come up with viable candidates for the other statewide offices, then I’ll start listening. And if they put together a foolish slate of quality candidates for the Legislature, I’ll be impressed.

But the real test of a “revitalized” party is its ability to field a competitive organization. And on that score, the VTGOP lags far behind the Democrats.

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Donovan vs. The Invisible Man

Well, the news broke late Sunday on Seven Days’ website: Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan will run for Attorney General, setting up a potential Grudge Match return engagement of his 2012 primary battle with incumbent Eternal General Bill Sorrell. And from day one, Donovan will be in the unusual position of being favored over an incumbent from the same party.

Donovan came very close to winning last time. This time, he appears to have a very united Democratic Party behind him. Top Dems continue to hope and pray that their AG will, ahem, “retire” and spend the next year and a half doing a victory lap.

Hints abounded at Friday night’s Curtis Awards dinner, one of the VDP’s big shindigs of the year. Donovan was given a Curtis Award, while Sorrell was nowhere to be seen. Even his name was a no-show:

There was, quite literally, no sign of him. Banners for all the other Democratic statewide elected officeholders, except Sorrell, covered the wall behind the stage. Julia Barnes, executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party, said the party didn’t have a Sorrell banner to hang.

Aww darnit, she must have left it in her other suit.

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The punishment fit the crime

Here’s something that’s by-the-books, letter of the law… but makes absolutely not a bit of sense.

Our dogged hero of law enforcement, Eternal General BIll Sorrell, is in hot pursuit of the scoundrel Dean Corren for a campaign violation. Seems the Democratic Party sent an email blast supporting Corren’s candidacy for Lieutenant Governor, and Sorrell deems this a violation of the public financing law.

Estimated value of the blast: $255.

The penalty Sorrell seeks: $72,000.

Sorrell says, and I understand, that he is simply following the law. which requires repayment of public funds still in Corren’s kitty at the time of the violation, plus a $10,000 fine for each of two violations (accepting the email, and failing to report it).

But holy Hell, I don’t care what the law says. $72,000 for a $255 violation is like a ten-year sentence for a speeding ticket. Does Sorrell have no flexibility whatsoever, or is he choosing to be a right bastard about this?

Also, this: I know for a fact that there was an ongoing, vigorous discussion within Democratic Party circles and the Corren campaign over what the party could do and couldn’t do on his behalf. The Democrats were very careful about it — so much so, that some liberals (including yours truly) wondered if they really wanted him to succeed. It’s hard for me to imagine that the Dems suddenly abandoned their caution in a spasm of Corren-love and sent out that email in a moment of blind passion, followed by headaches and regret the next morning.

Maybe so, because the Dems have responded to Sorrell’s onslaught like an abashed libertine trying to reform:

“To avoid the cost of litigation and move forward, both for the benefit of the Party and the State, the VDP decided to settle with the Attorney General’s Office,” the statement said.

As part of the settlement, VDP will agree to cooperate with Sorrell’s office in its investigation and litigation against Corren.

That’s nice. I’m sure it only appears that the Dems are throwing Corren under the bus.

Given the party’s SOP in dealing with Corren, I’m sure the email blast had to have been vetted by its legal staff. But that won’t do Corren any good now; he’s facing Mr. Prosecutor all by his lonesome.