A prophet without honor (and deservedly so)

Awww. Vermont’s Worst Senator™, Peter Galbraith, is feeling all butthurt. The Slummin’ Solon was on the short end of a (cough) 29-1 vote Thursday on one of his most dearly-held issues: campaign finance reform.

The State Senate, after going back and forth and back again on Galbraith’s pet cause, a ban on corporate contributions, finally decided to pass a bill without the corporate ban. In the end, Galbraith was all by himself.

Naturally, he took his defeat with all the grace you’d expect from a former diplomat. He called the bill a “sham,” accused his fellow Senators of “hypocrisy,” and added these thoughtful reflections:

“The Senate voted to allow wealthy people to cheat,” Galbraith said Friday. “It was not a great day for the Vermont Senate, that’s for sure.”

He oughta know about wealthy people gaming the system, since he self-funded his two Senate campaigns to the tune of $50,000 a pop — more than enough money to scare off any candidate who didn’t happen to be fabulously rich. Banning corporate contributions may be a good thing in general, but it’d have the happy side-effect of closing off one possible fundraising avenue for potential Galbraith challengers.

All I can say is he deserved what he got.  

He screwed up the Legislature’s campaign finance reform effort last year with his insistence on a corporate ban, and he did his best to screw it up again this year. And I haven’t even mentioned his ham-fisted intervention in the death with dignity debate, which killed Claire Ayer’s thoughtful bill and substituted his back-of-a-napkin version.

Given the fact that there are several Senators who agree with Galbraith on banning corporate money, I suspect the 29-1 tally reflects a deep disdain with his antics. Jeanette White, sponsor of the campaign finance reform bill (who must feel like she’s been on a two-week roller coaster ride), chided Galbraith for comments that were “not respectful to the 29 other senators or to the process itself.”

What we’re left with, after all the Senatorial sturm und drang, is a pretty darn good bill that had the solid backing of all three major parties and STILL had all kinds of trouble getting through the Senate, which is quite a remarkable feat. In the worst possible way.

The bill now goes to the House, where it may or ;may not run into more trouble, but at least it won’t have to deal with the Slummin’ Solon anymore.

The thing about a prophet without honor in his own country is, sometimes it’s because the prophet is too far ahead of his time to be recognized by those closest to him. And sometimes it’s because he’s so bumf**k crazy that he alienates everyone around him..  

7 thoughts on “A prophet without honor (and deservedly so)

  1. In the past he has come close to running for Congress and Governor, and I doubt his ambitiions have disappeared.

    Democrats across the state need to make it clear to Galbraith that his childish performance in the Senate means he will find no support for that. I certainly would never vote for him. (And I say this as someone who actually does support banning corporate contributions.)

    He’s proving over and over again that the UN was right when they fired him. His temper tantrums in the Senate sound remarkably similar to those that got him canned in Kabul.

    Pompous, self-righteous, full of himself, ineffective, untrustworthy, and unable to work well with others.

    He’ll never have my vote for any office.

    Wish Windham Democrats would primary him out and end his political career. Then he can go back to making money off of oil in Kurdistan.  

  2. Jvwait: You are almost correct about Senator Galbraith’s personal campaign finance. In 2010 he spent more than $55,000 to win the open seat, with about $45,000 of that in personal loans from his vast oil fortune. Most Windham Senate campaigns come in at several hundred dollars, to perhaps $10,000 in a very competitive race. In 2010 Mr. Galbraith shut down anybody that had any hope of beating him (including good Democrats in a primary and a reasonable Republican in the general), effectively buying the Senate seat. In 2012 he needed to spend just $740, as of his December 17, 2012 financial disclosure, because nobody would run against his money.

    Terje: I wish Windham Democrats would primary him too, but unfortunately Senator Galbraith has shown that he will spend whatever it takes to buy the seat, and nobody in Windham can justify going toe-to-toe financially. He wasn’t primaried in 2010 because it would be pointless and destructive. He basically owns the seat because of his wealth. In essence, if a Democrat did run a strong primary campaign and had the money to put up a competitive fight, Mr. Galbraith would likely dig back into his fortune and up the ante. The predicted result would be a newcomer and Mr. Galbraith spending on big media campaigns, and Senator White would be left in the cold with a weak campaign and potential primary loss. Good Democrats in Windham don’t want to challenge Senator Galbraith because it would really be a challenge to Senator White, who represents the county well.

    Unfortunately, Senator Galbraith has shown the destructive power of money in politics. I too would like corporate money out of politics, but down in Windham corporate money is about all that is left to create a competitive Senate race. Mr. Galbraith has destroyed politics here, or perhaps he has just exposed the ability of the uber-wealthy to buy government if they choose. It’s disgraceful.

    Senator Galbraith makes some good points, sometimes, but it’s hard to respect him given the way he bought his seat and his efforts to thwart the financing of any candidate that could challenge him.

  3. Here’s a concept (that would need some constitutional change):

    Nobody can donate more than a day’s wages at minimum wage, per election cycle, to any campaign. State minimum for state campaigns, federal minimum for federal campaigns. That’s $68.80 for Vermont and $58 federal.

    That includes the candidate. You can be a legend in your own mind, but you’ll have to get some people to believe in you to get a campaign going.

    Mr. Galbraith would have to have gotten 800 people to pony up $68.80 each to finance his $55k spending spree. That’s not an outrageous number of people. Perhaps an impossible one for him, but not outrageous.

    Likewise, the same limit on contributions to any organization engaged in political campaign communications or lobbying. That way Lenore Broughton and the guy who mows Ms. Broughton’s lawn would have the same political clout.

    Aren’t these the people who talk about a level playing field and equal opportunity to succeed or fail on one’s own merits? Ok, level it.

  4. Earlier in the process, Galbraith had successfully amended the bill — on a 22-8 vote — to include a ban on direct political contributions from corporations and unions.

    Those contributions have been banned under federal law for more than a century.


  5. I found this, er, rant when I was doing a search for other matters regarding Mr. Galbraith, and I started an account just so I could respond. First and foremost, how many of those making comments here actually live in Windham county? To speak as if the population of Windham county is so backwards as to be duped by paid advertisements or whatever you wish to use as an example of what money can buy, is both insulting to the intelligence of people (here), and simply ridiculous. For one thing Windham county is blessed with an inordinately high level of sophistication, reasons of which we could debate, but I think it’s due in large part to an influx of “urban refugees” (like has happened in alot of Vermont). And it just happens to have a good eduation system, two active newspapers in Brattleboro, and a very aware, politically involved population (to my thinking way too much involved, but that’s just me). Galbraith is our senator, and certainly there are people that have voted for him and disagree with some of his thinking, (I know of one person who knows him personally and is wondering whether she’ll vote for him again because of his vote on the End of Life thing) or are even disappointed with him, but I have not heard one word about people feeling he bought the election. The charge is absurd on its face because – and I only slight exaggerate to say this – all you have to do is say you’re a Democrat and Windham County will put you into office!

      Why not suggest the opposite? That Peter Galbraith was foolish enough to think that he had to spend that much money to win the election. Maybe it’s his own personal insecurities, especially as a newcomer to the field, especially thinking he had to prove that he could do the job after coming from such high office, that he felt he had to spend that much. Why not suggest that? Perhaps because it doesn’t fit your cynical view of the world.

      It is hard to imagine that if Mr. Galbraith were so enamored of having big money play a part in politics, that he would be so stubborn as to fight for a clause keeping big money out of it. I can live with such a paradox that someone who spent alot of money also wants to keep it out. I think those of you giving such thoughtless criticism might want to try simple mind exercises that would allow you to understand paradox does happen, and that it’s not ipso facto wrong.

      As for his demeanor in the Statehouse, I couldn’t give a sh*t. And calling them “antics” is clever semantics.Even if in the end he is voted down, or if he is always a minority of one, I’m happy to see that there is difference of opinion, and I’m happy to see someone with the audacity, in these days of collective thinking, to do it right or wrong.

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