Monday, February 27, 2012

Vermont Secessionist Robert Wagner's Campaign Finance Hanky Panky

Vermont secessionists have a well deserved reputation for playing fast and loose with the facts and the law. Usually what they assert as fact is a convoluted misrepresentation. On February 16 the announced secesher Vermont senate candidate for Addison County, Robert Wagner (who likes to call himself "Senator" despite never having served in the office and who has set up his provisional capitol in Hancock, VT for his secesher nation) unleashed a tirade of misinformation and invective against his Ripton, VT neighbor, Rep. Willem Jewett (D-Ripton) and Rutland County incumbent Vermont Senate member, Sen. Kevin J. Mullin while voicing his opposition in a matter of public policy before the legislature, a bill know as S.199.

It's an interesting charge since while Wagner makes no claim that a law has been violated by Rep. Jewett or Sen. Mullin, Wagner has been and is presently in violation of at least two campaign laws, in particular that which requires he register as a campaign committee due to his advocacy in opposition to S.199 as well as his urging support of other legislative bills and/or proposed legislation while trolling the legislative halls of the Montpelier Capitol building on behalf of his myriad pet causes. Since Wagner can not yet register legally as a candidate and may not do so until May 14, he is therefore not, in the official sense of the word, a candidate. His website and actions would very much seem to fail under the statutory definition of a lobbyist:
§ 261 (9) “Lobby” or “lobbying” means:
(A) to communicate orally or in writing with any legislator or administrative official for the purpose of influencing legislative or administrative action;
(B) solicitation of others to influence legislative or administrative action;
Since in his post Wagner sought to inoculate himself from the charge of being homophobic, I thought I'd take a crack at that nut first before I get to Wagner's violation of state campaign fundraising law.
"Kevin Mullen(sic)... was re-elected last year to the Rutland Senate District with $28,005 in campaign contributions. Only $1,628 of that was traceable to Vermont, according to Why should a single Vermont Senate Race be so important to out-of-state contributors?"

"In 2010, Mullin’s safe seat was in danger from two Independents in his district, Dennis Morrisseau and Bill Cruikshank, part of the Vermont Thirty. Somebody took this threat seriously!"
First off, Wagner's allegation that "only $1,628 of" Mullin's campaign contributions "was traceable to Vermont" is untrue. Perhaps if Wagner' mind hadn't become so addled processing 911 Truther falsehoods he'd have an easier time with actual records.

The not-yet-and-highly-unlikely-to-ever-be "Senator" Wagner suggests erroneously that Sen. Mullin's seat was under threat from two seceshers political wannabes in the 2010 election. That's shear crap. The only danger to Mullin was from radical right-wingers incensed over his vote on Vermont's groundbreaking marriage equality legislation. Secesh fringer candidates Bill Cruikshank and his neighbor, an anti-Semite of the worst kind and serial misogynist, Dennis Morrisseau, were never a threat to any of the other candidates for Rutland County's three senate seats. The suggestion that they ever could have been is laughable and confirmation of Wagner's delusional nature. Here's the truth: Cruikshank came in last with 1.7% of the vote, cheating Morrisseau of his usual showing in an election. Morrisseau got a whooping 1.8% of the vote, securing the next to last place slot. Oh, and Mullin finished first.

What Wagner didn't choose to say was that Mullin's largest contributors in and out of state were gay and lesbian. There is no gay issue before the legislature this year nor likely to be in coming years. This was a generous act on a part of a grateful community from across the country and that's why "a single Vermont Senate Race (was) so important to out-of-state contributors." Wagner may not be overtly homophobic (although given his range of hatreds I can't be so sure) but he's undoubtedly a willing nitwit whose accusation gives aid and comfort to the homophobic opponents of Mullin that did seek to unseat him in 2010. Maybe he can add to his phony charges against Mullin (someone he isn't even running against) that he's in the pocket of Big Gay - not that there's anything wrong with that.

This past Sunday, in an editorial regarding Vermont's healthcare system system, Mullin's hometown newspaper, often described as "left-leaning" and occasionally dubbed "The Russian Herald" described the senior member of Rutland County's senate team of three thusly,
"Mullin may be the most influential Republican working on behalf of health care reform. Republicans are few in number in the Senate, but Mullin has assumed a constructive, positive role."
Wagner would do well to consider how a negative, extremely divisive and personally repugnant campaign will fair in Vermont over likely opponents with a reputation for honesty and comity. The Vermont political boneyard is littered with the remains of campaigns such as his - the similarly hateful Take Back Vermont crowd, the equally negative Six Pack, etc. In Vermont, successful politicians run for something, not at or against someone.

Recently at a legislative breakfast Wagner was called on one of his falsehoods by his neighbor and legislative representative, Willem Jewett (D-Ripton), specifically, that Vermonters don't have the same access that lobbyists have to legislative committees. Apparently the "Senator" didn't care for being challenged over one of his myths so he's now taking on another member of the legislature who's had it with his bullshit, as, I suppose, have most of his Ripton neighbors. When Rep. Jewett last ran he received 1,595 votes in the six towns that comprise the Addison-2 district he represents, 257 of which came from Ripton; non-Senator Wagner received only 1128 votes from the twenty-four towns of the Addison County senate seat (which includes Rutland County's Brandon), of which Ripton gave the anger challenged Wagner a total of 37! or 7% of his hometown vote. Perhaps a part what's made Wagner such a disliked figure in his hometown is his baseless and scurrilous attack on Ripton's selectboard that I reported on here.

Wagner has also used information that he obtained from an out-of-state website (all the while complaining about out-of-state financial support for candidates that he hates) that specifically precludes the Wagners of the world from using the information as he did. Directly beneath the information that Wagner quotes from Project Vote Smart about Rep. Jewett (information that is true for virtually every legislative member in Vermont who does not see the value in submitting to questionnaires from Texas as Wagner does) is this admonition in bold to political sleaze balls like Wagner:
Project Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any campaign activity including advertising, debates, and speeches.
Putting what he found on his campaign website and using it as he did would certainly be a violation of Project Vote Smart's prohibition but I don't think that'll trouble what's already coming to be seen as the ugliest, searingly pessimistic and most negative campaign in the 2012 election - Robert Wagner's ill-fated campaign to wreck the Vermont's Senate, The Thirty. And just so there's no room for Wagner to try to weasel his way out of what he was doing, using Project Vote Smart in furtherance of his campaign, here's what he said about Jewett:
"My house rep stands for nothing but his political career, and votes as required to keep the corporate money and federal handouts flowing. Jewett must go."
Of course, I'll be keeping track of the totals, Wagner's dismal excuses and the lines he'll cavalierly cross in 2012, as well as his numerous hypocrisies and lies, but here's what this phony critic of his fellow Vermonters has done in the way of a blatant violation of Vermont's campaign law. I've learned from a source (two can play that game "Senator") that a complaint was submitted this fall to the Vermont Secretary of State's office regarding an illegal campaign solicitation that appeared on Wagner's fringer website.

Here's the scam that Wagner's pulling: candidates are permitted to “'passing-the-hat' at a fundraiser" but apparently Wagner is saying that his website is a "fundraiser" and that he's creating a new wrinkle to the public financing mess by claiming that he's merely passing his e-hat. On August 23, 2011 he had this pasted campaign donation box on his campaign website that also had next to it, under his mug, an admonishment that government should "respect the rule of law":

It's clear though that Wagner was willing to take donations in any amount from anonymous donors no matter what the law since, in fact, "the rule of law" doesn't really matter so much to him. His act was illegal no matter how he now spins it. After the complaint was made to Vermont Secretary of State's office, Wagner reduced the amount that he was willing to accept illegally to $50 or under. According to the Vermont Secretary of State's Campaign Finance law brochure, the law doesn't seem to include Wagner's self-serving thinking:
"Note that no individual can put more than $50.00 in cash into the hat because contributions in excess of $50.00 must be by check, credit card or debit card."
With all the problems today over fundraisering sleaze, it figures that Wagner would be the one to come up with calling a website a hat.

But I guess if you're an aspiring political wannabe, details like following the law, as well as its spirit, don't really matter when the ultimate goal is to smear others who've not violated the law. Wagner's really just following the lead from July of last year of his mentor, Thomas Naylor, who sought to act as a super-PAC until it was revealed on this blog here. You see, Naylor offered to send a free book of his (Amazon stats reveal that Naylor's books can't sell except in the category of +1,000,000 others sell better than his) to $100 contributors to the 2012 Vermont secesher legislator's campaign. Naylor illegally solicited funds without registering as a PAC (political action committee) via this on his website:
Support Us
"Please help us save Vermont, America, and the rest of the world from the American Empire by helping tiny Vermont lead the nation into disunion. If SVR is to move to the next level, electing members of the state legislature who are open secessionists, we need your financial support. Those who contribute $100 or more receive a complimentary copy of Thomas H. Naylor’s provocative, 100-page, unpublished monograph Rebél, a philosophy of peaceful rebellion against the human condition and the American Empire."

"Complete this form and return it with your check to The Second Vermont Republic, P.O. Box ***, *********, VT 05***."
Shortly after I revealed Naylor's electoral impropriety in July, he took that legislative campaign solicitation off of his website.

I wonder how long it'll take Wagner's "The 30" campaign to also come into complete compliance with the letter and as well as the spirit of the law, rather than the self-serving and most likely illegal interpretation that a hat can be passed on a website.

Meanwhile, in closing, there's still been no word yet about whether Wagner will be returning the $288.30 subsidy he received while flying out of the airport in Rutland, VT, which is exactly the kind of subsidy that he "is strongly opposed to" and has argued harms Vermonters that I revealed he'd hypocritically availed himself of (as in sticking his snout in the federal money trough) here.

Wagner must publicly give back that subsidy money or he'll be exposed for the hypocrite and fraud that so many of us Vermonters now know him to be.

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