by Rob Roper
Peter Shumlin admitted that his campaign violated Vermont’s election laws by inadvertently soliciting lobbyists for donations during the legislative session. But, what he would not admit is that the campaign that violated those laws actually exists.
During the Governor’s weekly press conference, Peter Hirschfeld of the Vermont Press Bureau pointed out, “Your secretary of civil and military affairs is working partly on her own personal time on your campaign. Are there any other members of your administrative staff that are also working on your campaign?”
Shumlin responded, “We don’t have a campaign, first. Second, it’s not uncommon in administrations like mine for some employees occasionally to volunteer their free time on a weekend or whenever the wish at home or at night to do the few things that have to happen just in case you run.”
Terry Hallenbeck of the Free Press followed up, “How can you say you don’t have a campaign when one of those [fundraising] letters came from you?”
Shumlin answered with a smirk. “Well, just in case. I’m not an announced candidate.”
Earlier in the event, a clearly uncomfortable Shumlin danced around a question about whom it was he ordered to scrub the offending email list of any lobbyists:
Hirschfeld: Who are those “folks” you’ve asked to scrub that list?
Shumlin: Well, I’ve considerately asked the folks who did ask me because I did – I asked my folks to get it done.
Hirschfeld: You asked –
Shumlin: We have a consultant on staff who helps me raise money who will get that done.
Hirschfeld: A consultant on which staff?
Shumlin: She’s the only employee we have working for a campaign, if there is one.
So, Shumlin has hired a fundraising staffer, is organizing active volunteers, is sending out fundraising letters both from himself personally and from powerful lobbying/union organizations lining up behind him. (Matt Vinci, president of the Professional Firefighters of Vermont wrote one of the offending fundraising letters. It’s worth noting, Vinci is himself a registered lobbyist).
…But, there’s no campaign.