by Robert Maynard
The sheer audacity of some figures on the left can be breathtaking at times. For a while now the left has been conjuring up the imaginary boogeyman of big corporate money flowing into Vermont to thwart such cherished efforts as the attempted government takeover of health care. Sometimes the imagined culprits are insurance companies, while at other times it is the dreaded Koch brothers. Never is any evidence ever cited to prove that such out of state money is finding its way into Vermont to fund conservative causes; it is merely stated as an article of faith. If those making such hysterical claims would pay a little more attention to national conservative politics, they would discover that Vermont is barely on the radar screen. Most high profile national conservatives see the state as a lost cause and big conservative donors are wary of pouring money down what they consider to be a black hole. Still, this does not stop those on the left from conjuring up this imaginary boogeyman every time it suits their purposes. The most recent example is the creation of Vermont’s first “super PAC” by a left leaning group. Believe it or not, the group claims to be against such PACs in particular and the influence of big money in politics in general. Despite their supposed reservations against playing the game, they argue that it is necessary to save the state from the coming tidal wave of Koch and Karl Rove right wing money that is poised to flow into the state. Seven Days ran an article on their site entitled “Liberal Lobbyists Open Super PAC Pandora’s Box in Vermont” that pointed out the irony of the situation. Here is an excerpt from that article:
In a letter filed Wednesday with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, the two liberal lobbyists announced their intention to start what they’re calling Vermont’s first “super PAC.” Unlike traditional political action committees and advocacy organizations, the new Priorities PAC intends to “raise individual, corporate and labor funds in unlimited amounts” and engage in direct electioneering efforts in Vermont, according to the filing.
Who’s behind this shadowy outfit? A bunch of lefties who earlier this year founded Vermont Priorities, a nonprofit focused on fighting for universal health care, the environment, a progressive tax system and other hippie-dippie causes. Stannard (pictured above at the Statehouse), an anti-nuke lobbyist for the Vermont Citizens Action Network, chairs Vermont Priorities’ six-member board. Bailey, a lobbyist for KSE Partners, serves as the group’s consultant.
Here is the predictable justification:
“Why is somebody vehemently opposed to super PACs starting one? Well, that’s a good question. I don’t like super PACs. I don’t like the obscene amount of money that’s being dumped into politics around the country,” Stannard says. “But I’m simply not going to sit back and watch 40 years of sound legislative practice in Vermont get rolled.”
“I don’t like the game. I don’t like the rules of the game. But there are those who really do,” Stannard says. “The obvious characters come to mind: people like Karl Rove and his friends the Koch brothers.”
They did not appear to be deterred by the fact that there is no evidence of such money making its way into Vermont:
Have the big, bad conservative Super PACs found their way to Montpelier yet? No, concedes Stannard, but better safe than sorry.
“We could wait until those who might not be in sync with us start a Super PAC and we would be on the defensive and scrambling,” he says. “We’re being defensive by being offensive is how I’d couch it. Are we encouraging others to start a super PAC? I don’t know.”
I have written numerous articles citing evidence that the bulk of outside money flowing into Vermont is lining up behind left wing interests. The right in Vermont is vastly under funded by comparison. VPIRG alone, with it nine paid lobbyists, absolutely dwarfs any effort on the right. They are joined by a cross section of groups that far exceed in resources anything that can be cobbled together on the right. On top of that they have the backing of the state’s major political leaders for most of their agenda. Then you have the recent entry into the fray on the part of the Service Employees International Union. The absolute gaul of these people trying to portray their efforts as a David vs. Goliath grass roots battle against vast corporate resources is mind boggling. The fact of the matter is that they are scared to death of the possibility that, despite an overwhelming advantage in funding and organization, schemes like the government take over of health care will be rejected by Vermonters once they are informed how it is to be paid for and the extent to which it would involve government bureaucrats coming between patients and their doctors in the decision making process. It is such fears that fuel the quest to throw more resources into the fight, while distracting the public from the huge funding advantage they already enjoy by conjuring up an imaginary boogeyman to hide behind.