Will McAllister Get the Heave-Ho?

Finally, someone within the Republican Party is stepping up to demand expulsion of their disgraced Franklin County Senator, Norm McAllister.

Citing disappointment that McAllister does not appear willing to live up to his promise to resign voluntarily by November 1, Sen. Joe Benning (R-Caledonia) says he will file a motion seeking McAllister’s expulsion on this coming Monday, November 2.

My first question is: why has it taken so long for anyone to show true leadership on the McAllister situation, when shockingly straightforward evidence that he violated community standards as well as his oath of office has been a matter of public record for months?

Almost equally pressing is the question of why it was left to a Republican from Caledonia county to administer the coup de gras.

Since McAllister’s indecencies were committed against Franklin County constituents and his refusal to resign made collateral victims of all Franklin County citizens, most especially Franklin County women, it was up to the Franklin County GOP to force McAllister out of the Senate without delay.

For Franklin County Republicans to just stand by for six months, wringing their hands ineffectually, speaks volumes about the leadership void the County suffers under Republican domination.

Franklin County’s only other state senator, Republican Dustin Degree was quoted in last Wednesday’s Messenger as saying he would vote to expel McAllister if it came to a vote.

The reason he gave had nothing to do with the fact that McAllister had sexually victimized at least two vulnerable women, nor that he had admitted to having sex with his teenaged ‘intern.’

“For me, it’s really about insuring the folks up our way have the representation they deserve, that they are constitutionally entitled to.”

The very next day, to Vermont Digger, Degree seemed to be singing a slightly different tune.

Degree revealed that he had opposed stripping McAllister of his committee assignments last spring in the wake of the freshly laid charges.

As for his constituents? Degree seemed largely ignorant of the disgust and outrage that I personally have witnessed percolating through the community among Democrats, Republicans and those who would bring a pox on both their houses.

“It’s a topic of conversation for some people, and there are certainly folks who are vehement on both sides,” Degree said. “I think a majority of folks are reserving judgement and seeing how the process plays out.”      

I have heard a lot of sound and fury about how he should be regarded as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law, and lacking conclusive public evidence of his violations in the form of recorded admissions of guilt, I would have certainly agreed.

However, we have that conclusive evidence from the telephone conversations recorded by States Attorney Jim Hughes in which McAllister discusses the acts and circumstances with two of the victims.

McAllister’s trial isn’t expected to take place before spring, and could very well be delayed even longer. That is no reason to hold the population of Franklin County hostage to diminished representation in Montpelier for an indeterminate length of time.

It is a complete misunderstanding of the difference between Mr. McAllister’s right to a fair trial on criminal charges, and his service as a State Senator under the rules of the Legislature. The two are completely separate matters.

As I have said over and over again, McAllister has no ‘right’ to his senate seat. He has had the privilege of occupying that seat at the behest of Franklin County voters who retain all of the rights associated with elected officeholders.

Once Mr. McAllister has been duly ejected, it will be time to look a little deeper into the matter of who knew what and when about the teenaged ‘intern.’

With two other legislators sharing McAllister’s living accommodations, where other legislators probably dropped by on occasions, it defies belief that no one ever remarked on the extreme youth of Mr. McAllister’s companion and the fact that she disappeared into the same room with the 70-year old legislator to sleep at night.

Anyone who is so uncurious or unobservant is arguably unsuited to representing the people’s interests at the State House.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

2 thoughts on “Will McAllister Get the Heave-Ho?

  1. I’d like to set the record straight with respect to some points raised in this essay. Before getting to them, I’d like to make clear that this discussion has nothing to do with the facts of Senator McAllister’s criminal case. That “sound and fury” you hear from people defending him, specifically about his right to a fair trial, his presumption of innocence, and the requirement of the state to prove him guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, are important to me as well. My comments here are limited to the right of Franklin County to have full representation and the ability of the Senate to do the people’s business in an environment free from disruption.

    My first request that Senator McAllister resign was in a letter to his attorneys on May 15th. They were notified that I was conducting the research necessary to bring an expulsion resolution and that I learned Senate President Pro Tem (John Campbell) was also doing that. My second request was in a letter directly to McAllister on May 20th. Both of these letters coincided with calls by the Lt. Governor, Senate leadership and a number of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle for him to resign.

    Second, as has been reported by Seven Days, I had agreed not to file a resolution before November. This was done at the personal request of Senator McAllister in a phone conversation on or about May 29th. He wanted time to receive and review the discovery materials in his criminal case. I agreed to hold off for two reasons. First, the Senate was no longer in session and I did not want to see the Governor call for a special session at taxpayer expense to deal with this issue. Secondly, I believed him when he told me he would resign voluntarily if his criminal case was still pending by November in order to give the Franklin County Republican Committee time to find prospective names to submit to the Governor for his replacement. I also knew that several of his friends were continuing to put pressure on him to step down.

    I had a number of conversations with Franklin County Republicans and at least two from outside the county who were friends of his throughout the summer, trying everything we could think of to get him to voluntarily resign. I sent a third letter on October 16th, after reading news reports quoting him as being determined not to resign. By this time he knew that his trial would be scheduled during the session. In that letter I again informed him that I intended to file the expulsion resolution if he did not keep to his promise.

    Finally, while I remain committed to filing the expulsion resolution if he has not resigned, I have not decided when that will be. Your November 2nd date is nothing I have ever said, so I’m not sure where that came from. I am working with Senate leadership, the Senate Secretary and Legislative Council in order to time that filing to best accommodate the Senate’s schedule.

    I’ll close with an observation. Any suggestion that the Franklin County Republicans, legislative colleagues or Senate leadership has been ignoring this issue is absolutely false. I do not feel at liberty to disclose their names here, but many people have been working very hard since Senator McAllister was arrested to get him to resign voluntarily. We have become well educated and are fully prepared to act formally if he does not live up to his word.

    1. Thank you for clarifying the story for us, Joe. I incorrectly made the Monday assumption based on the Messenger story yesterday that said that, if he didn’t resign by Sunday, you would be requesting the expulsion hearing.

      So I guess we will still have to wait.

      Having spent eight hours over three Saturdays at the Saturday Market in St. Albans asking for signatures on a petition for his expulsion, I can say that nearly everyone I spoke with wanted him to resign although many did not wish to put their name to a petition for a variety of reasons which I respect.

      I found Mr. Degree’s remarks about the relative indifference of Franklin County residents to the matter, pending the outcome of a criminal trial very much out of touch with my own experience.

      On several occasions since last spring, I have expressed to Franklin County Republican representatives that they needed to demonstrate leadership on this mess or suffer the political consequences. I felt they should be given ample opportunity to speak out and demand his resignation with the most forceful public voice. Doing so would have sent a clear message to their constituents that they recognized the uncontrovertible offense in the actions already admitted to by Mr. McAllister; never mind what a court might determine as his legal liability.

      They did not do so, leaving it to us, his less powerful constituents, to try and figure out how to force that resignation ourselves.

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