Bruce Lisman, out of the closet

No, not that closet — the partisan closet. Peter “Mr. Microphone” Hirschfeld:

Newly updated filings at the Federal Elections Commission show that Lisman… contributed $10,000 to the Vermont GOP on Jan. 6. That’s in addition to the $16,000 Lisman gave to the Vermont Republican Party between Aug. 13 of 2010 and Dec. 8 of 2011.

… There are no records of contributions from Lisman to the Vermont Democratic Party.

Ah yes, it turns out that Bruce Lisman, retired Wall Street panjandrum and member of a fincnail-sector fraternity that gets together once a year to dress in drag and share misogynist jokes and yuck it up about how great it is to be filthy rich, has been one of the VTGOP’s biggest individual donors — even as he heads up the “nonpartisan” Campaign for Vermont.

If you need a reminder of how rich ol’ Brucey is:

As for the donations in 2010 and 2011 – they arrived in three installments of $5,000 and one of $1,000 – Lisman said, “I don’t remember them.”

A few grand? Ha, that’s chump change for the likes of Lisman. But he insists that his personal contributions have no relationship whatsoever to the “nonpartisan” organization he personally bankrolls to the tune of over a million bucks.

“I hadn’t considered it that way,” he said.

(Cough.) And if you buy that, I’ve got some subprime derivatives to sell you.

In case you still need more proof of CFV’s partisan bent, here are some figures compiled by people I know with more time on their hands and more database experience than I, showing that the CFV “grassroots” lean heavily to the Republican side of the aisle.

CFV claims more than a thousand “partners.” That list includes 66 who were members of local Republican town committees between 2011 and 2013.  

That may not seem terribly overwhelming, but look: only 2 were members of Democratic, Progressive, or Liberty Union town committees.


Do some quick math here: a CFV “partner” is 33 times more likely to be a Republican Party official than a Democratic Party official.  

One other tidbit: 330 CFV “partners” took a Republican ballot in the 2012 Presidential primary. Compared to the entire electorate, CFV partners were three times more likely to have voted in that Republican primary.

Put it all together, you have an organization that is putatively nonpartisan but has a strong conservative lean. It’s headed (and entirely funded) by one of the leading individual donors to the Vermont Republican Party. And a man so wealthy that he “can’t remember” giving away $16,000 of his fortune.

I’d still like to see some intrepid reporter drill Mr. Lisman on his 2010 speech in South Burlington, dissected here and here.  

To sum it up: In a talk entitled “Finding Skin” (which concerned the importance of “having skin in the game” — rather ironic from a guy who doesn’t expect people to give a goddamn penny to join CFV), Lisman echoed many of the tenets of the Wall Street/one percenter crowd, including the desirability of lower taxes for rich people and capital gains and the idea that economic growth should be the “first magnitude” priority for government. And he described the 2008 financial meltdown as it if were an act of God that could not have been prevented or foreseen by his fellow Masters of the Universe.

Lisman also parroted the “47%” shibboleth: he asserted that “more than 50% of potential taxpayers” don’t pay any taxes. Which is just flat-out bullshit: nearly 50% don’t pay federal income taxes, but they are not exempt from all the other taxes. But even if you accept his argument, what he’s saying is that the poor should pay more.

This speech is almost four years old, but it’s the only time I know of that Lisman has revealed his own political views in a public forum. I’d love it if someone asked him about that speech, which is still viewable online thanks to Burlington’s community access folks.

I think those questions are fair game for someone who’s spent a million bucks (and counting) in an effort to influence public policy in Vermont.  

6 thoughts on “Bruce Lisman, out of the closet

  1. Can the Dems look forward to receiving their own 26-thou from Mr. “Non-parti” Lisman?  And what’s in that bottomless sack of cash for the Progs?

  2. That he came back around to the same side! He’s a sly one. Even got GMD fooled. Just wait till he pops out of that cash filled Trojan piggy bank and says he’s really a Prog / Dem fusion movement. All those conservatives he’s brought along for the ride will have no where else to turn, and follow him to the greener pastures of ‘the other’ party.  

  3. for that:

    I’d still like to see some intrepid reporter drill Mr. Lisman on his 2010 speech in South Burlington

    This is why he so carefully chooses the photo-ops & venues, as well as insulating himself with “staffers” — a paid entourage serving as human shields & running interference. Paid water-carriers & professional fanners plus acres of astroturf – a FB account he refers to as his “grassroots” organization – while he sits back & bats eyelashes peeking from behind his Jaypan fan (per Sue ;), as his “thinktank” of wonks employing VTs finest double-talking ex-bureaucrats to carpet bomb Vermont, littering airwaves & publications with silly “policy papers” & op-eds complete with sockpuppets to man the comments section of online publications.

    He’s dumping the suitcases of cash, more than a million, actually an “investment”, to supposedly “start a conversation” with Vermonters – that’s one expensive “conversation” – and a salaried staff to boot??

    Only a consummate narcissist displays this peacock-like flamboyant behavior which is why I do not believe he can be trusted to serve in any capacity though it’s clearly his desperate desire.

    Beware of WallSt-ers in flannel shirts toting carpetbags of cash! I only wish Fred Tuttle was still around to tie him in knots.

  4. I attended a Campaign for Vermont community event last fall in Milton. There were about six people in attendance, not including the three staffers. Representative Don Turner (R – minority leader) was also there. The community panel conducted of a school board member, a director of a local non-profit, and a local insurance broker. To be completely objective, it didn’t feel like a conservative rally. Well, other than incessant bitching about taxes.

    Lisman loves to highlight the Vermont Office of Finance and Management’s D- in transparency. Because no one can tell what the purpose of Campaign for Vermont is, I give them a D- as well.

    Campaign for Vermont, because of its resources, may turn out to be a viable threat. Who knows what they’ll spend on independent expenditure ads this cycle. For now, they’re simply ineffective, which I’m fine with.

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