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.