Dyspepsia under the dome

So yesterday, a bunch of Republican lawmakers came out with a campaign finance reform plan. It was, in many respects, very similar to proposals put forward by Secretary of State Jim Condos and VPIRG.

The plan, unveiled by a group of ten Republican lawmakers and actually sponsored by Rep. Kurt Wright, would require electronic filing of campaign finance reports, more frequent reporting of contributions and expenditures, and a requirement that if a single donor is responsible for more than 50% of a SuperPAC’s funding, that person’s name would have to appear on the organization’s mailers and advertisements. Peter “One Man Band” Hirschfeld (behind the Times Argus paywall):

Republicans’ proposals, however, are almost indistinguishable from those put forward by organizations and officials who lament the proliferation of super PACs.

…Secretary of State Jim Condos said the list of ideas offered by Republicans is nearly identical to the plan he put out shortly after Election Day.

Well, okay then. Everybody’s happy, right?

Er, no.

House Majority Leader Willem Jewett, a Ripton Democrat, struck a dismissive tone Thursday.

…Jewett said the disclosure proposals forwarded by Republicans on Thursday aren’t even “really what we as Democrats think of as campaign-finance reform.”

Asked to list aspects of the Democratic Party’s campaign-finance platform not included in the GOP presentation Thursday, Jewett said they were still under construction.


I don’t know who pissed in Jewett’s cornflakes, but listen. The Republicans are AGREEING with you on significant aspects of the issue. Sure, there are differences, but Wright’s plan is clearly a positive step. The correct response isn’t a dismissive sneer; it’s more along the lines of “We welcome the Republicans’ support for reform proposals very similar to those endorsed by the Governor and Secretary of State, and we look forward to a bipartisan effort to bring much-needed transparency to our campaign finance system.”

I mean, you’ve got a veto-proof majority. You’ve got the corner office. In the next four months, there will be plenty of chances to ignore the Republicans and stomp all over their ideas. But on a rare occasion when there’s some real common ground, why not be just a little bit gracious about it?

(For those without access to the Mitchell Family Organ, the story was also covered by Paul Heintz at Seven Days and Andrew Stein at VTDigger.)

5 thoughts on “Dyspepsia under the dome

  1. Yes, you got a good write-up from Hirsh in Fair Game, as the GMD correspondent who ‘scoops’ the…what did he call it?…oh, The PROFESSIONALS.   Keep it up.  You and Sue and all of you.  Maybe Seven Days will do a link, so’s people can get the stories that aren’t printed.

  2. I commented elsewhere online regarding Mr. Heintz’s original blog post, as well as his column “The Scoreboard”.

    Here’s what I posted today.

    Speaking of pedantic. The “savvy political move” you describe in this post refers to a press conference. No actual legislatvie action has taken place as of today. In fact, your own blog post with a similarly incendiary headline filed Thursday, January 17 states, “Joining them at the press conference was Rep. Sarah Buxton (D-Tunbridge), who has signed on to Wright’s bill.” Rep. Buxton, by your report is a co-signer of the billl and a DEMOCRAT. She can’t then also be one of the representatives you’re referring to when you give a thumbs down to “Vermont Democrats, for sounding pedantic and partisan in their response, instead of embracing the proposals and one-upping the Republicans”.

    It’s possible this was an oversight on your part. However, I believe it would be prudent to let the Republicans file the bill before passing partisan judgements. Once the bill is filed we can assess who the co-sponsors are, and when the bill is read and sent to committe it’ll be easy to determine who’s willing to go on the record in oppostion of it. Calling this as you have now, is at best, premature and at worst, it’s a smarmy, snarky award without merit.

    A single representative who, to one reporter apparently, “struck a dismissive tone” regarding this “plan” does not necessarily represent the entire Democratic legislative caucus on the issue, as Mr. Heintz has attempted to do now on two occasions. This is especially true when the reporter then goes on to write that a Democrat was standing at the podium during the press confrence confirming that she, too, has co-signed the bill that hasn’t yet been read into the record.

    Breathe people. And think.

  3. Somehow, I suspect you are.

    It would be disappointing if Mr. Jewett’s position was representative  of the entire caucus.

  4. Rep. Jewett is also the House Majority Leader, making him a bit more than “a single representative who … ‘struck a dismissive tone’ [… and] does not necessarily represent he entire Democratic legislative caucus.”

    I hope a lot of Democrats will point out to Rep. Jewett that here was his first big chance to demonstrate graciousness and willingness to work together with Republicans to make campaigns more transparent, and he blew it, big time.

    So he should get someone to write a bigger bill, that would incorporate the Republican plan (or let Republicans amend the Democratic bill to include their measures).

    Supposedly that’s how we work in Vermont – without the “hyperpartisanship” reflected in the superPAC attacks.


    In the last analysis, politics is not predictions and politics is not observations. Politics is what we do. Politics is what we do, politics is what we create, by what we work for, by what we hope for and what we dare to imagine. ~ Senator Paul Wellstone

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