Tag Archives: Vermonters First

The VTGOP’s looming crisis of conscience

Sooner or later, the Vermont Republican Party will have to sort through some stuff. Some unpleasant, downright Trumpian stuff swirling around Rutland these days, sparked by the proposed settlement of 100 Syrian refugees.

It won’t be an issue this fall — except in Rutland. And it will be interesting to see what, if anything, Phil Scott has to say about it. To judge by his usual metrics, he’ll come out with a mealy-mouthed thing about taking everyone’s views into consideration and finding common ground.

Instead of, you know, the right thing: condemning the dog-whistle racialism being spewed by opponents of settlement — the likes of Rutland First and its allies.

The real moment of truth is likely to come next March, when the nativists will almost certainly field candidates who would block the settlement and try to defenestrate incumbent Mayor Chris Louras, the primary author of the settlement plan.

That’s when the VTGOP will have to choose sides. Or, you know, duck and cover.

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All aboard the Bruce Lisman gravy train

(or, How to Spend 600 G’s Without Really Trying)

The year 2012 brought forth a pair of shameless hucksters political consultants cashing in on conservatives with more money than sense. There was Randy Brock, who lost by 20 points to Shumlin and, in the process, spent $100,000 on campaign “manager” Darcie Johnston.

And lest we forget Lenore Broughton, Montgomery Ward heiress and would-be conservative game-changer. Her right-hand man, Tayt Brooks, squandered more than a million Broughton Bucks in a fruitless effort to influence the 2012 election through the “grass root” (singular) organization Vermonters First. Once bitten, twice shy; Broughton has barely been a factor in Vermont politics since then.

This year brings a new entrant into the Vermont Conservative Consultancy Hall of Shameless: Shawn Shouldice, chief of Capital Connections, the notorious black-hat lobbying shop. She’s attached herself, limpet-like, to the political underside of Bruce Lisman, and she’s milking that cash cow for all it’s worth. (Pardon mixed metaphor.)

Shouldice makes a very good living as an advocate for some of our biggest and dirtiest business groups. Her client list includes the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the National Association of Manufacturers, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), and the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association. Shouldice was also the PR arm of Lisman’s vanity project advocacy group Campaign for Vermont.

Last fall, she stepped away from active lobbying to become the campaign manager of Lisman for Governor. Her salary, according to my reading of the latest campaign finance data: $14,500 per month. On an annual basis, that’s $174,000.

Good Lord.

Now, Shouldice is an experienced lobbyist and advocate. But she is, as one observer put it, “a newbie to campaign management.”

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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!

The Campaign Finance Report Day That Was: more miscellany

I’m going to put off a couple items till tomorrow, if you don’t mind: The full impact of Governor Shumiln’s money tsunami, and the Curious Case of the Local Republican Committees. For now, let’s clean out the ol’ inbox.

— If dollars are any indication, the Windham County Democratic Senate primary is definitely taking shape. Incumbent Jeanette White hasn’t submitted a report, which most likely means she raised and spent little or nothing. Okay, so she’s the incumbent. Two other Dem candidates posted relatively meager totals: Joan Bowman and “The Artful Roger” Allbee. The financial powerhouse in the race is Becca Balint, who raised more than $10,000 and spent about $4200. Her many donors include one Jane Lynch of Los Angeles, California, who kicked in a cool grand. Would this be the Jane Lynch of Glee fame? Don’t know.

But most of Balint’s money came from within the county. Which is a sign that the local money is on her side, and she’s off to a sizeable lead over her competition. (Recap: there are two Senate seats in Windham County. Jeanette White’s running for re-election, and Peter Galbraith is, praise the Lord, not. There are four candidates on the Dem primary ballot, fighting for two spots. No Republicans have entered the race, unless you count former Douglas Administration functionary Allbee, who’s running as a Dem.

— As far as I can tell, the most well-endowed (please hold the locker-room yucks) Senate candidate is one Dustin Degree of Franklin County. He’s raised over $15,000, including $6,000 from members of the Vallee family. One notable expense: $1700 to the St. Albans Messenger for what Degree’s filing calls “print adds.” A bit of remedial spelling is in order chez Degree.

Phil Scott has picked up his fundraising pace, now that he has to deal with the publicly-funded Dean Corren. Our Lieutenant Governor carried forward a $41,000 balance from his yawnfest of a win over Cass Gekas; he’s raised $61,000 and spent a chunk of that, leaving him with a current cash balance of $78,000. He vows that he will match Corren’s $200,000 in public-financing dollars with at least that much of his own. A lot of his contributions, natch, are from corporations and business-friendly PACs.

— Two years after losing to Bill Sorrell in the Democratic primary, TJ Donovan has finally closed out his campaign account. He’s folded virtually all the remaining funds — more than $4,600 — into his campaign for re-election as Chittenden County State’s Attorney. Which is probably $4,599 more than he will need to win. I guess he can always open up a new Attorney General campaign committee and shift the money back over.

— Donovan’s campaign filing for State’s Attorney had one interesting donation: $1,000 from Thom Lauzon, the Republican Mayor of Barre. 

— Lenore Broughton’s colossal waste of money, Vermonters First, looks to be inactive for this season. The SuperPAC is carrying a balance of roughly $3,000, but there was virtually no activity during the most recent reporting period. If Broughton is gearing up for another push, she’s hiding it well. (Oh, and her new Minion of Record is Robert Maynard, best known as a writer for the useless True North Reports. Her former Minion, Tayt Brooks, landed himself a new gig with the conservative movement-building enterprise American Majority.)

FedEx may be unfriendly to union organizing, but it seems to like Democrats — at least in Vermont. The FedEx PAC gave $4,000 to Governor Shumlin’s campaign, plus $1,000 each to the Vermont Democratic Party and the Dems’ House Campaign Committee. And not a sou for the GOP. Sad.

That’s it for tonight. Tune in tomorrow for the last two big items from filing deadline day. And thanks for reading; this site set a new record for single-day pageviews, and I appreciate the traffic and the implied respect.