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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Vermont GOP Vice Chair Brady Toensing Lands a Job at Department of Justice

Posted By on Tue, Jun 11, 2019 at 1:27 PM

Brady Toensing - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ
  • File: Paul Heintz
  • Brady Toensing
Vermont Republican Party vice chair Brady Toensing is leaving the state — and party leadership — for a job with the U.S. Department of Justice. He’ll be a senior counsel for its Office of Legal Policy.

Toensing had already split his time between Vermont and Washington, D.C., where he works at a law firm owned by his mother, Victoria Toensing, and step-father, Joseph diGenova. Toensing is leaving the firm and giving up his Vermont residency to live full-time in D.C.

The 51-year-old attorney declined to share additional details about his new job because the Department of Justice has strict policies governing who can publicly speak about its operations. According to the mission statement of the Office of Legal Policy, it is responsible for implementing criminal justice policies and advising the attorney general on policy matters.

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Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Judge Sides With Sanders Aide in Gas Price-Fixing Suit

Posted By on Wed, Jun 5, 2019 at 8:19 PM

Skip Vallee in his home - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Skip Vallee in his home
A federal judge ruled this week that a spokesperson for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) does not have to comply with a subpoena issued as part of a class-action lawsuit against Vermont gasoline retailers accused of price-fixing.

A defendant in the suit, R.L. Vallee, sought last November to compel the aide, Daniel McLean, to turn over a wide range of legislative, legal and political documents involving Sanders' Senate office. R.L. Vallee, which operates the Maplefields chain of gas stations, later alleged in a court filing that the documents were necessary to show that the senator had ginned up the lawsuit to exact retribution against the company's CEO, Rodolphe "Skip" Vallee, a longtime political nemesis of Sanders'.

In a 22-page ruling issued Tuesday, U.S. District Court Judge William Sessions III sided with McLean and quashed R.L. Vallee's subpoena.

A lawyer for McLean, who was represented by the Office of Senate Legal Counsel, argued at an April hearing that he was shielded from the subpoena by the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which generally protects the federal government from being sued. McLean's attorney also argued that the speech and debate clause of the U.S. Constitution protect most congressional documents from disclosure, and he said that the subpoena would impose an undue burden on Sanders' office.

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Thursday, May 30, 2019

Walters: VTGOP, Gov Welcome Scott Walker as Protesters Jeer

Posted By on Thu, May 30, 2019 at 11:49 PM

Scabby the Rat, an inflatable prop favored by union protesters, towered over the crowd outside the Hilton. - LEE KROHN
  • Lee Krohn
  • Scabby the Rat, an inflatable prop favored by union protesters, towered over the crowd outside the Hilton.
Gov. Phil Scott and former Wisconsin governor Scott Walker headlined a Thursday evening fundraiser for the Vermont Republican Party. About 160 people attended the dinner at the Hilton Burlington. (Twenty or so of them paid extra for a closed-door reception with the two governors.) Before the event, roughly 500 people held a protest across Battery Street from the hotel.

Scott has sought to distance himself politically from Walker, who pursued conservative, anti-union policies as governor. “I didn’t invite the speaker,” Scott said at a Thursday press conference in Waterbury. “But I felt an obligation to make sure that we welcome governor Walker to our state.

“Vermonters know me,” Scott added. “I’m a centrist and I’m open-minded and I’m willing to listen to other points of view, and that should be the message here.”

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Saturday, May 25, 2019

Bernie Sanders
At Homecoming Rally in Montpelier, Bernie Sanders Thanks Vermont

Posted By on Sat, May 25, 2019 at 11:26 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing the crowd Saturday - STEFAN HARD
  • Stefan Hard
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders addressing the crowd Saturday
Three months into his campaign for the presidency, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) returned to Vermont on Saturday to address his most loyal supporters — and ask for their votes once more.

At a rally on the Statehouse lawn, Sanders thanked "the people of the state of Vermont, who have given me an opportunity that, when I was a kid, I never would've dreamed of in a million years." Serving as mayor of Burlington and then in the U.S. House and Senate had been "the honor of my life," he said, "and I thank you all."

Susan Clark, 64, of West Barnet, holding a Bernie Sanders sign - STEFAN HARD
  • Stefan Hard
  • Susan Clark, 64, of West Barnet, holding a Bernie Sanders sign
Sanders used his Montpelier homecoming to hail "the history of our small but proud state," asserting that it had "held its head high in the struggle for human freedom and justice." He also used it to highlight his own accomplishments in Vermont: helping to establish the Burlington Community Land Trust, build a network of community health centers and improve care for veterans.

"And now, as we assemble today here in front of our beautiful state capitol in this pivotal and unprecedented moment in American history," he said, "I am here today to ask for your support to help me win the Democratic nomination."

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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Welch Calls for Barr's Resignation as Attorney General

Posted By on Thu, May 2, 2019 at 5:13 PM

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) - FILE
  • File
  • Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
U.S. Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) on Thursday called for Attorney General William Barr to resign.

"Looks like President Trump found his Roy Cohn," Welch wrote on Twitter, referring to the late lawyer and fixer famous for his loyalty to senator Joseph McCarthy and Donald Trump. "AG Barr should resign."

In an interview later Thursday with Seven Days, Welch cited the role Barr played in "undercutting" Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential obstruction of justice by Trump.

"He really became a defender of the president, rather than a lawyer defending the rule of law for all Americans," Welch said.

Welch joins many other Democratic lawmakers in calling for Barr's resignation, including several presidential candidates, but he is the first member of Vermont's congressional delegation to do so. On Wednesday, both Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) stopped short of such a demand.

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Friday, April 19, 2019

Koch-Supported Entity Helped Fund Controversial Speaker at Middlebury

Posted By on Fri, Apr 19, 2019 at 4:15 PM

McCardell Bicentennial Hall - WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  • Wikimedia Commons
  • McCardell Bicentennial Hall
A Virginia-based think tank heavily funded by billionaire Charles Koch is among the financial backers of a Middlebury College lecture series that reignited an intense debate about campus free speech this week.

Middlebury's Alexander Hamilton Forum was to host a public talk by conservative Polish politician and writer Ryszard Legutko on Wednesday. College administrators canceled the lecture, citing security worries, as protestors who branded Legutko a homophobe prepared to demonstrate.

The Institute for Humane Studies at George Mason University helps fund the Alexander Hamilton Forum, the forum's director, Middlebury assistant professor Keegan Callanan, confirmed to Seven Days Friday. The Hamilton series is meant to broaden debate and inquiry at the highly selective private liberal arts college.

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Thursday, April 18, 2019

Mueller Retort: Sanders, Welch and Leahy Give Scathing Critiques of Trump's Actions

Posted By on Thu, Apr 18, 2019 at 6:06 PM

Vermont’s congressional delegation on Thursday rejected U.S. Attorney General William Barr’s defense of President Donald Trump
Sen. Patrick Leahy - FILE
  • File
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy
 as “spin” and vowed to continue congressional investigations into the findings of the newly released Mueller report.

Statements by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) made it clear that while the Special Counsel Robert Mueller may be finished with his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, Congress is just getting warmed up.

"Nothing can hide that this report amounts to a formal presentment of misconduct that reached the highest levels of the Trump campaign and administration," Leahy wrote in a statement. “Members of the Trump campaign were not simply useful pawns in Russia’s attack on our elections. They were eager, unapologetic beneficiaries of Russia’s interference.”

Leahy was in Vietnam Thursday. Welch was in Colombia, and Sanders was campaigning for president, according to their spokespeople. All issued written statements about the redacted version of Mueller’s report.

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Sanders Releases 10 Years of Income Tax Returns

Posted By on Mon, Apr 15, 2019 at 8:31 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders - FILE: SOPHIE MACMILLAN
  • File: Sophie MacMillan
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders

Railing against income inequality has made Sen Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) a wealthy man.

Sanders and his wife, Jane O'Meara Sanders, released 10 years of federal income tax returns Monday showing that their financial fortunes have soared along with the senator's political aspirations.

The returns show that the couple earned nearly $2.8 million in the three years since Sanders’ first presidential campaign catapulted him to national political prominence.

After years of earning less than $300,000, Sanders’ income shot up to $1,073,333 in 2016, mostly on the sale of his best-selling book Our Revolution.
The book was released in November 2016, after his rival for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, lost the presidential election to Donald Trump.

The following year, Sanders earned slightly more, $1,131,925, again largely on royalties from the book’s publisher, Macmillan.

The income from royalties dropped off sharply last year, however, falling from $855,000 to $391,000. That figure could very well bounce back, given that Sanders’ followup book, Where We Go From Here, was released by Macmillan in November.

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Sunday, April 14, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Sanders Takes On General Motors Near Shuttered Chevy Plant in Ohio

Posted By on Sun, Apr 14, 2019 at 9:47 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at Lordstown High School on Sunday in Warren, Ohio - AP PHOTO/DAVID DERMER
  • AP Photo/David Dermer
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders speaking at Lordstown High School on Sunday in Warren, Ohio
In the shadow of an idled General Motors plant, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Sunday said that, as president, he would tear up the company’s federal contracts if it continued to outsource jobs.

“If entities like General Motors think that they can throw workers out on the street while they’re making millions in profits and then move to Mexico and pay people there starvation wages and then line up to get federal government contracts, well, they got another thing coming,” the senator said during a forum at Lordstown High School in Warren, Ohio.

Sanders issued the threat just miles from a GM facility that, until last month, employed more than 1,400 people assembling Chevy Cruze sedans. After the Lordstown plant powered down, President Donald Trump lashed out at GM, the United Automobile Workers and the union’s local president — setting off a fierce national debate over labor, trade, outsourcing and automation.

When Sanders came to town, he focused his ire squarely on the company, noting that it had taken tens of billions of dollars in government bailouts during the 2008 recession.

“Our job now is to tell them, whether they like it or not, they will be good corporate citizens,” he said.

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Saturday, April 13, 2019

Bernie Sanders
Campaigning in Indiana, Sanders Rips Trump's 'Cheap' Rhetoric

Posted By on Sat, Apr 13, 2019 at 5:44 PM

Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning Saturday in Gary, Indiana - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning Saturday in Gary, Indiana
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn’t think much of George W. Bush. “His views were pretty different from mine,” Sanders said Saturday morning in Gary, Indiana. But during a campaign stop in this Upper Midwest city, the senator sounded a wistful note about the 43rd president.

“Do you remember what he did after 9/11? Does anyone remember?” he asked a few dozen community leaders at a downtown Gary convention center. “He went to a mosque. Do you remember that? He walked into a mosque to say that criminals, terrorists attacked the United States — not the Muslim community.”

But now, Sanders continued, “We have a president who, for cheap political gain, is trying to divide us up by the color of our skin, by where we were born, by our religion. My God.”

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