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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Vermont Senate to Vote on Corporate Contribution Ban

Posted By on Tue, Feb 26, 2019 at 7:41 PM

Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) - FILE: NANCY REMSEN
  • File: Nancy Remsen
  • Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington)
Senate lawmakers advanced a proposal Tuesday that would ban campaign contributions made directly by corporations to political candidates or parties. Under the legislation, corporate money could still find its way into Vermont’s elections, but it would have to move through a political action committee first.

The Senate Government Operations Committee approved the bill in a 4–1 vote Tuesday afternoon, with only Sen. Brian Collamore (R-Rutland) opposing it. The full Senate is likely to take it up later this week.

The legislation would allow individuals, PACs and political parties to contribute directly to candidates and parties, but it would bar private companies, nonprofit organizations, trade associations and labor unions from doing so. Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) sponsored the legislation in an effort to limit corporate influence in politics and increase transparency in campaign financing.

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Scott Taps Colston to Fill Winooski Seat in Vermont House

Posted By on Tue, Jan 22, 2019 at 7:04 PM

  • Courtesy of Hal Colston
  • Hal Colston
It's decided.

Gov. Phil Scott announced Tuesday that he will appoint Winooski City Councilor Hal Colston to fill the vacant Chittenden 6-7 House seat.

Colston will be sworn in Wednesday to represent all of Winooski and a small portion of Burlington. He'll replace Clem Bissonnette, who announced his resignation last month.

"Hal has dedicated much of his life to public service and improving the lives of people in his community,” Scott said in a statement. “As a city councilor and executive director of SerVermont, Hal has made it his mission to advocate for equity and justice for all, and I look forward to working with him in the Legislature.”

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Sunday, December 9, 2018

Joe Biden Talks Family — and a Bit of Politics — in Visit to Burlington

Posted By on Sun, Dec 9, 2018 at 7:26 PM

Jodi Picoult and Joe Biden - KATIE JICKLING
  • Katie Jickling
  • Jodi Picoult and Joe Biden
For those expecting Joe Biden to deliver a political stump speech — or a taste of his future plans — during a visit to Burlington on Sunday, he failed to deliver.

The former vice president and senator avoided all but an ambiguous hint when it came to discussing a possible 2020 presidential run, and he steered clear of any direct attacks on President Donald Trump — even as he came to the home turf of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a possible 2020 competitor.

Instead the 76-year-old appeared intent on offering a more personal message. For those who are grieving or bereaved, he told a packed house at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, "There's a reason for hope, believe it or not."

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Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Winooski Voters Approve Main Street Revitalization Project

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2018 at 8:28 PM

A rendering of the proposed reconstruction of Winooski's Main Street - COURTESY VHB CONSULTING
  • Courtesy VHB consulting
  • A rendering of the proposed reconstruction of Winooski's Main Street
Onion City voters approved a $23 million bond for a major facelift of the city's Main Street on Tuesday by a healthy margin of 311 to 185.

The vote will allow the Winooski City Council to explore funding sources, including state and federal grants, as well as a 1 percent local options tax on rooms, meals and alcohol. An increase in municipal taxes and water rates could also fund the work.

After the votes were counted Tuesday evening, Mayor Seth Leonard took to Twitter.

Other public officials also expressed gratitude to voters.

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Friday, April 20, 2018

Walters: Corporate Contributions Ban Has a Tough Day

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 5:05 PM

Rep. Jim Harrison, center, questions a witness about S.120. - JOHN WALTERS
  • John Walters
  • Rep. Jim Harrison, center, questions a witness about S.120.
Members of a Vermont House committee have plenty of questions about S.120, the Senate-passed bill that would ban corporate campaign contributions to candidates or political parties.

The House Government Operations Committee held its first hearing on the bill Friday morning. Both Democrats and Republicans appeared to be skeptical that the bill would accomplish its purpose: to keep Vermont immune from the effects of big-money politics. That’s because corporations would still be able to donate unlimited funds through political action committees and independent organizations.

“Many of us have gotten lots of calls asking us to get corporate money out of Vermont politics,” said committee chair Rep. Maida Townsend (D-South Burlington). “This bill, the PACs would collect the money and put it into our political system. If it’s direct from corporation to candidate it’s not OK, but if it goes from corporation to PAC to candidate, it is OK?”

Rep. Jim Harrison (R-Chittenden) wondered, half-jokingly, if S.120 didn’t simply create “a way to launder the money,” and pointed out that “any candidate could set up a PAC and accept corporate contributions.”

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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Call to ‘Make Vermont Great Again’ Dismays Some GOP Lawmakers

Posted By on Wed, Apr 11, 2018 at 5:00 PM

  • Screenshot from Vermont GOP email
Some Republican Vermont lawmakers are distancing themselves from their own party's messaging.

The state GOP urged supporters in an email Wednesday to “MAKE VERMONT GREAT AGAIN!" — a riff on President Donald Trump’s campaign slogan. Sent several hours before Gov. Phil Scott, a Republican, signed a package of gun reform bills, the email evoked the language of gun rights supporters, many of whom are furious with Scott. The message also used a color scheme associated with the pro-gun contingent — hunter orange and green.

“In recent years,” the email read, “our state has been co-opted by the liberal elite. Out-of-touch politicians have been hell bent on stripping away every right and freedom that Vermonters hold dear.”

But, it continued, "Now is not the time to surrender ... 2018 is a critical year for conservatism in Vermont. If we are ever going to return Vermont back to its former glory, we need to band together to toss out every last liberal elitist politician in Montpelier."

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Pro-Gun Vermont Senator John Rodgers Considers Run for Governor

Posted By on Tue, Apr 10, 2018 at 3:16 PM

Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) speaking at a Statehouse press conference Tuesday - ALICIA FREESE
  • Alicia Freese
  • Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans) speaking at a Statehouse press conference Tuesday
Sen. John Rodgers (D-Essex/Orleans), one of the most vocal opponents of gun control in the Vermont Statehouse, said Tuesday that he’s considering a run for governor.

“There’s a lot of support out there,” Rodgers said. “I’m definitely thinking about it.”

The right-leaning Democrat from Glover could capitalize on a wave of anger directed at Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who is poised to sign a package of gun control bills Wednesday. Previously a stalwart opponent of such measures, Scott reversed his stance in February after learning of an alleged school shooting plot in Fair Haven.

At a Statehouse press conference held with other lawmakers Tuesday, Rodgers reiterated his opposition to S.55, a bill that would mandate universal background checks, raise the purchasing age for guns from 18 to 21, limit high-capacity magazines and ban bump stocks.

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Thursday, April 5, 2018

HuffPost: Notorious White Nationalist 'Ricky Vaughn' a Waterbury Native

Posted By on Thu, Apr 5, 2018 at 5:57 PM

A social media profile image of "Ricky Vaughn" - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • A social media profile image of "Ricky Vaughn"
Updated at 9:36 a.m. April 6, 2018, with a statement from the Mackey family.

An infamous white nationalist troll who went by the online moniker "Ricky Vaughn" is a 28-year-old Waterbury native whose father is a prominent Montpelier lobbyist, the Huffington Post reported Thursday.

The man known as Ricky Vaughn, whose online profile grew during the 2016 general election, is actually Douglass Mackey. He graduated from Harwood Union High School and Middlebury College, and now lives in Manhattan, the Huffington Post reported.

His father, Scott Mackey, is a partner at Leonine Public Affairs and served on the Harwood Union School Board.

“We were devastated to learn this week of Doug's beliefs and on-line activities as reported in the Huffington Post," Scott Mackey said in a statement released Friday. "They are antithetical to the values we hold and with which he was raised. We are still trying to understand how he could have done something like this and hope he will find some way to make amends for the harm he has caused.”

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Thursday, November 9, 2017

Virginia Candidates Win Office With Help From Vermont Group

Posted By on Thu, Nov 9, 2017 at 3:21 PM

Members of the southern Vermont Sister District chapter - COURTESY PEG ALDEN
  • Courtesy Peg Alden
  • Members of the southern Vermont Sister District chapter
We first told you about the southern Vermont chapter of the Sister District project in May.

The activist group, which seeks to elect Democrats involved in difficult state-level races, was preparing to launch a soup CSA, modeled after community supported agriculture programs that provide patrons farm-fresh fruits, veggies and meats. The money the group raised in the Brattleboro-Putney area was earmarked for John Bell, an incumbent Democrat in Virginia’s House of Delegates.

On Tuesday, Bell rolled to victory, winning 62 percent of the vote to retain his seat in the northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C. In the campaign, he spent nearly $300,000 more than his Republican challenger, according to data provided by the Virginia Public Access Project.

The results delighted Peg Alden, the cocaptain of the southern Vermont group.
“I’m just thrilled and inspired to see, in these state-level races, what small amounts of cash can do,” she told Seven Days on Thursday.

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Thursday, October 26, 2017

New Contenders Emerge for Vermont GOP Chair

Posted By on Thu, Oct 26, 2017 at 11:31 AM

Current GOP chair David Sunderland addresses fellow Republicans in 2013 - FILE
  • File
  • Current GOP chair David Sunderland addresses fellow Republicans in 2013
Updated at 12:35 p.m.

At least two candidates are vying to replace David Sunderland as chair of the Vermont Republican Party.

Michael Donohue, who moved with his family to Shelburne in 2016, announced his bid in an email Wednesday. Deb Billado of Essex Junction is also putting her hat in the ring.

Party members will gather at the Capitol Plaza Hotel & Conference Center in Montpelier on November 4 to elect leadership positions, including state committee chair, vice chair, secretary and treasurer.

Sunderland, who’s led the party since 2013, said he isn’t running for reelection because he needs to devote more time to his job and his family.

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