Did She, Or Didn't She? | Freyne Land

Seven Days needs your support!

Give Now

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Did She, Or Didn't She?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 11, 2006 at 10:24 AM

You decide.

Thought I’d have room to deal with it in today’s “Inside Track” print column, but No!  Along came Kate O’Connor. Space is tight. Lots going on. So let’s update the Vermont Guard Porngate story here in Blog Land. Nice pic of Candidate Rainville and the campaign pooch. That's Campaign Manager Judy Shailor on the right, Press Secretary Brendan McKenna on the left.

Last week, we reported in Track on an anonymous letter alleging Martha Rainville, as adjutant general, had investigated and covered up a case involving the production and distribution of a homemade porn DVD by a Guard officer who was a Rainville favorite. The letter, sent to the Welch for Congress campaign and to yours truly, also alleged there is a subsequent investigation underway under Rainville’s successor - Gen. Mike Dubie, brother of Brian.

Last Wednesday October 4, Rainville held a presser at her Taft’s Corners HQ.. She was closely questioned about it by reporters. On Thursday October 5, a story related to Porngate appeared in the Times Argus, but other media outlets did not mention it. Nonetheless, the questions by Freeps reporters Sam Hemingway (SH), Terri Hallenbeck (TH) and editorial writer Sue Allen (SA),  as well as from Ross Sneyd (RS) of the Associated Press, were very, very direct.

We suspect press outlets did not go with a Porngate-at-the-Guard story because they could not get anyone to go on-the-record to confirm it. I went with it in Inside Track because I found several credible sources who confirmed it. However, they would not allow their names to be used. No way!

In fact, as you'll read below, Marvelous Martha actually confirms there had been a related investigation under her command, and a subsequent one under her successor.

From the October 4 Rainville press conference transcript:

PF: Did you confiscate or destroy a sexually explicit DVD in an investigation of ...

Rainville: You know, Peter, I know that you’ve received a letter that, although looks like it was signed was illegible, basically an anonymous letter. A letter that I find disgusting. A letter that was sent to the Welch Campaign and to you and a letter that makes some very untrue allegations. I’m not going to discuss the specifics in there.

I also know that there have been events that have transpired at the Guard since I’ve been gone that the current adjutant general is dealing with  through an investigation and that should not be discussed. So I will just say I know only bits and pieces. I do not have any inside information or privileged information on what’s going on there now.

But you don’t lead an organization for nine years without having a sense of something that’s happened. But the current adjutant general is very professionally looking into it. The military has an independent way of investigating through their IG (Inspector General) system.  Allegations can be looked at outside the chain of command. We need to respect that, if in fact that is exactly what’s happening, which I expect it is. So I’m not going to answer specific questions. As AG I had numerous cases to deal with. I dealt with them fairly and I dealt with them directly and I dealt with them as expeditiously as I could.

SH: Why can’t you answer Peter’s question? Yes or no -  did you destroy any sexually explicit DVD material like that. That’s a good answer about what the Guard’s doing now, but, when you were commander, did something come into your possession that you destroyed or not?

Rainville: Because if I answer that, I get into a realm of  talking about personnel issues or possible disciplinary issues that are not to be talked about publicly. They’re not public information. I’m also saying. in this case. this an anonymous letter that was sent. There are 34 days in the election. It was sent out to my political opponent and I’m now going to get sucked down into some negative issues. This is why I came out with a Clean Campaign Pledge [and] invited opponents to join me because this election isn’t about anonymous allegations. This election is about the issues that affect Vermont. Vermonters don’t want to hear it.

SH: Are you saying the Welch campaign had something to do with this?

Rainville: No, I’m not.

SH: Then why are you bringing them up?

Rainville: Because it’s a fact that the letter was sent to the Welch Campaign. It’s a fact that there’s 34 days to the election. It’s a fact that I’m a major party candidate, that there’s an anonymous letter that is questioning my integrity. So I’m not going to talk about specifics and I will just say this is not what the race needs, this is not what Vermonters want. We need to stay focused on the issues. I’m not going to answer anything that was part of an anonymous allegation. Are there any other  questions on other topics?

TH: Well, Vermonters do want to know how you might have handled something like this particularly with the Foley case out there. Voters do want to know if someone’s accusing you of pushing something under the carpet. They need to know whether that could happen or not.

Rainville:  I can say that the allegations in the letter are untrue. I can say my record of leadership speaks for itself. The way I dealt with any issue in the Guard, particularly sensitive issues, emotional issues, was directly and straightforwardly and by the book. I made sure my senior staff dealt with issues in an ethical, legal moral way.  That is what’s important in a leader. That’s what Vermonters need to know about me.

Then the presser moved to other topics for about 10 minutes - including the plagiarism found on her campaign website - before returning to the Porngate topic.

TH: Do you think there’s some risk here of you’re tying to say “Trust me I did everything by the book,” and Vermonters are just supposed to say, “You said you did everything by the book. We don’t have the proof.” It does lead to questions hanging. How do I know?

Rainville: Well, I’m sure there’ll be questions that will be fully exploited by others, too. But how do you know?  You can look back at nine years of leadership. Certainly, again, the unfortunate position I’m in is I cannot give you proof. They’re protected decisions. They’re protected records. I’m sure the person who wrote the letter knew that, and I’m not going to try and quibble or try and give you sorted information, but not give you information on something. That’s not right. But I am the person I am. I do have morals and ethics and values. And I spent nine years doing my best to move the Guard forward and to make decisions that were true leadership decisions and to make sure that the other senior leaders followed suit.  That we treated people fairly. That we gave them due process. That we gave them the benefit of the doubt, when there was any doubt and that we worked to be sure that people were professional at all times.

SH: If you were presented with information when you were commander, that somebody did the things alleged in this letter, what would you have done?

Rainville: When? Because at different times I was presented with different information and I had to make a decision. I had to make a decision at different times throughout my tenure whether something warranted further investigation whether it involved the government. Whether it involved government time, or whether it was a strictly personal issue.
The Guard has limited jurisdiction and you have to be sure of yourself. I used the independent system quite frequently when I said - this is a decision I’m not comfortable with. I want an independent person to investigate it and I went to the IG {Inspector General] and probably used the IG a lot more than other commanders did or had before me and I encouraged my commanders to do the same thing. Cause the most important thing is that people are treated fairly. That they get due process and that you have the facts. And I did my best to act on the facts and to make solid judgments every time.

SH: You wouldn’t have put up with somebody, ah, thinking  homemade porn involving officers. I mean, I can’t imagine you would have....

Rainville: I would never have put up with what is alleged in the letter of distributing porn. Of using Guard members for that. That’s ludicrous. That’s ludicrous.

SH: Is somebody out to get you at the Guard, do you think?

Rainville: Out of 4000 members currently and thousands through the years, I’m sure there’s a few who don’t agree with me. I’m sad to think that any would want to use a race to get at me. or to use the Guard for political purposes. That isn’t in anybody’s best interest. But I’m not surprised that there are those who are disgruntled or that there are those who have a beef. I’ve been in supervisory and command position long enough to know that sometimes that bubbles up, but again, I know that I’ve always acted ethically and professionally and that’s what it’s all about.

RS: Are there public records that would answer any of this? Criminal charges, court martial?

Rainville: There are no criminal charges that I know of. I don’t know what may transpire from anything that’s happening at the Guard now. It’s been six months since I was there. So I would say no. There are no public records for anything, I would imagine, that might be implied.

SA: Was the investigation triggered by the letter or was the investigation ongoing?

Rainville: You’d need to ask Gen. Dubie about that for any specifics. All I have is an impression that there was something they were looking into already, but you really need to ask him specifics on that.

RS: How did you have that impression?

Rainville: Because we have a great retiree breakfast network and I’ve talked to Mike [Dubie] a few times. Again, I tidied up all the issues I had before I left. And he had a fresh slate coming in. So we didn’t discuss details. Again it was just an impression. There might be....

SH: But you didn’t hand off an investigation to him that you can see the link to this letter?

Rainville: Um. No.

SH: And do you have any suspicion that this is some kind of dirty tricks by the Democrats? Or by Welch?

Rainville: I don’t know what to think to be honest with you. I don’t know what to think. I don’t want to make any judgments.

PF: But did not Carolyn Dwyer, Welch’s campaign manager, contact this office immediately when they got the letter? And wanted to speak to you?

: What I know is she came over and gave us a letter, ah, the letter. Yes.

PF: But didn’t she say that we just got this.

Rainville: I didn’t talk to her. I wasn’t here when she came but I know she came and brought the letter.

PF But even though she did that, and I would assume, denied anything to do with the letter - I didn’t either by the way - that you still think they may be connected?

Rainville: I didn’t say that. I’m not making any judgments. I don’t know where the letter came from.

PF: I understand. But you cannot say “I have no reason to believe Peter Welch is connected to this?”

Rainville: I hope they would and I have no specific reason to believe they did. I hope they would never do that. Peter and I have engaged on the issues. We’ve conducted ourselves I think very well in this campaign to the extent that people around Vermont are commenting on how they’re enjoying the debates because they don’t have to listen to mud-slinging. I know that we both want to keep it that way.

TH: What do think of the way Carolyn Dwyer did handle the letter?

Rainville: I think she handled it in the best way she could have by bringing it over here. So. anything else?

PF: What do you like best about politics?

Rainville: The people. I love the people ad feeling there’s the opportunity to do something to make a difference.

PF: Cool.

Rainville: Thank you.



Comments are closed.

Since 2014, Seven Days has allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we’ve appreciated the suggestions and insights, the time has come to shut them down — at least temporarily.

While we champion free speech, facts are a matter of life and death during the coronavirus pandemic, and right now Seven Days is prioritizing the production of responsible journalism over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor. Or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

One or more images has been removed from this article. For further information, contact [email protected].

About The Author

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne

Peter Freyne, 1949-2009, wrote the weekly political column "Inside Track," which originated in the Vanguard Press in the mid 1980s; he brought it to Seven Days in 1995. He retired it shortly before his death in January, 2009. We all miss him.

More By This Author

Latest in Freyne Land

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2023 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation