Gosh. Maybe, just maybe, the VTGOP is a little tiny bit concerned about Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s electoral prospects. Because party Vice Chair Brady Toensing, he of the mudslinging DC family law firm of DiGenova & Toensing (stepdad and Mom, respectively), is dipping into Mom’s bag of tricks: trying to drum up interest into a 20-year-old controversy about Prog/Dem candidate Dean Corren. And, wouldn’t ya know it, the Burlington Free Press’ Nancy Remsen took the bait.
Brady Toensing circulated 1994 newspaper clips that recounted the questions that had been raised about the housing reimbursements Corren and Terry Bouricius received while they served in the House of Representatives.
The pair had rented an apartment in Montpelier during the legislative session, but didn’t always stay there, commuting back to Burlington instead. Still they collected the full housing allowance, Toensing said, and called it a taxpayer scam.
Corren calls it a “phony accusation,” and says “I reported everything exactly as it was required.”
Professional Nice Guy Phil Scott’s campaign wants nothing to do with Toensing’s charge, at least publicly:
Patti Komline, Scott’s campaign manager, disavowed any knowledge or involvement in the information Toensing distributed.
“Disavowed any knowledge” is fortuitous phrasing on Remsen’s part; it comes from the opening to the old “Mission: Impossible” TV show, where the head of the black-ops team gets his orders via audiotape, which blows up five seconds after the tape says “Should you be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions.” Likewise, Ms. Komline.
The Corren stuff has already been aired pretty thoroughly. It happened 20 years ago; Corren continued to serve in the Legislature for six more years, apparently without any more expenses problems. It’s clearly irrelevant to Corren’s fitness to serve in 2014.
Besides, I would think the VTGOP would be a little more forgiving about 20-year-old ethics charges, considering that in 2012, it happily gave its Auditor General nomination to Vince Illuzzi.
As you may recall, at the very moment when Corren had to clear up questions about housing reimbursements, Illuzzi’s license to practice law was under suspension over ethics charges. It had been suspended the previous year, and wasn’t reinstated until 1998. Illuzzi was lucky at that; the state bar’s Professional Conduct Board had recommended that Illuzzi be stripped of his law license for good.
Illuzzi had been charged with: using his public office to influence court proceedings, conduct prejudicial to administration of justice, and conduct displaying a lack of fitness to practice law. In a settlement, he stipulated to his guilt.
So I ask you, in a hypothetical faceoff between 1990s ethical questions, which is worse: having a candidate for Lieutenant Governor who faced questions about housing reimbursements, or having a candidate for Auditor who was officially accused of using his office to influence court cases and “displaying a lack of fitness to practice law”?
I know where my money is on that one.
But it is nice to see the VTGOP treating Dean Corren as enough of a threat that they feel the need to slime his reputation.