This article by Harmony Birch originally appeared April 8 in the Brattleboro Reformer.
BRATTLEBORO — Vermont showcases that democracy is still alive and well, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said at a “Congress in your Community,” town hall in Brattleboro on Saturday.
“People are putting a stake here in Vermont and making their communities better places,” he said.
People gathered at the Robert H. Gibson River Garden to ask Welch everything from how to lobby for their cause to what he was doing in Congress.
Welch has been a U.S. Representative for the past 12 years. For 11 of those years, he’s received no opposition within the Democratic party. This year, however, Dr. Dan Freilich of Brownsville, and Benjamin Mitchell of Westminster, are throwing their hats in the ring. Among their main cases for running against Welch is his campaign financing. Freilich even wrote in a March 22 letter to the Reformer that he would freeze his campaign if Welch were to “step up.” It was implied that this meant refusing to take money from special interests. Welch said he disagreed with Freilich about campaign finance.
“Every single expenditure for my campaign is on file,” he said. The real issue, Welch said, is Citizens United, a Supreme Court ruling that allows wealthy people, like the Koch brothers, and industries to invest as much as they want in candidates without restrictions. Welch said he is in favor of overturning Citizens United.
During the town hall, questions about how Welch got campaign money came up several times. Welch recently came under fire for his role in drafting a law that allowed drug companies easier access to prescribe pain pills. The result made it difficult for the Drug Enforcement Agency to stop suspicious shipments of narcotics.
When asked if he had ever received campaign donations from pharmaceutical companies, Welch responded, “all the money I get is in the public record so you can look through it.”
According to opensecrets.org, Welch received money in 2014 and 2016 from McKesson and in 2016 from Amerisource-Bergen. Both companies lobbied for the bill, according to the Washington Post.
Read full story at the Brattleboro Reformer.
(Fair use with written permission from the New England Newspapers Inc.)