• Peter Welch accepts thousands in campaign donations from sugar industry PACs

    By Sarah Mearhoff

    Despite his pledge last November not to accept “any corporate PAC money,” Vermont’s Democratic U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, who is running for the U.S. Senate, has continued to accept sizable campaign contributions from high-powered industry groups that frequently lobby Congress.

    And according to his campaign’s latest quarterly finance report filed Friday with the Federal Election Commission, those contributions include at least $17,000 from political action committees, or PACs, representing the sugar industry.

    Welch’s largest contributor in the sector was American Crystal Sugar Company PAC, which made headlines this month when the nonpartisan watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington found that the Minnesota-based company ranked among the top campaign contributors to members of Congress who voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election.

    American Crystal Sugar Company PAC donated $10,000 to Welch’s campaign in the third quarter.

    Welch is not the first Vermont congressional candidate to receive money from American Crystal Sugar this cycle. Lt. Gov. Molly Gray, a former Democratic candidate for Vermont’s open race to replace Welch in the U.S. House, took heat from her primary competitors this spring and summer for a $5,000 contribution she received from the company’s PAC before the August primary. (State Sen. Becca Balint secured the Democratic nomination.)

    In an April campaign fundraising email titled “When it comes to influence in Washington, Crystal is king,” state Sen. Kesha Ram Hinsdale — then a primary competitor for the U.S. House seat — said American Crystal Sugar “isn’t just any PAC representing corporate interests.”

    “American Crystal Sugar is responsible for contributing to climate change with policy and practices that cause environmental destruction,” the email read, though it did not name Gray directly. The email also cited earlier reports of the company’s contributions to those who voted against certifying President Joe Biden’s victory.

    Later, in June, Balint’s campaign spokesperson Natalie Silver told VTDigger of Gray’s American Crystal Sugar donation, “If Becca had taken money from people who had supported overturning the election, I would tell her to give it back, and I think that Molly Gray should do the same.”

    Ram Hinsdale and Balint have both supported Welch’s U.S. Senate bid. Neither Ram Hinsdale nor Silver could not be reached for comment on Monday. American Crystal Sugar did not respond to an interview request.

    Welch also received donations in August from the Amalgamated Sugar Company PAC ($2,500), American Sugarbeet Growers Association PAC ($1,000), Florida Sugar Cane League PAC ($2,000), Sugar Cane Growers Coop Of Florida PAC ($500) and the Western Sugar Cooperative PAC ($1,000).

    Welch’s campaign did not make the congressman available for a phone interview Monday, and in a written statement, did not address VTDigger’s inquiries about donations from the sugar industry.

    Hank Butler, a spokesperson for Welch’s campaign, said, "Over the course of this campaign and throughout his time in Congress, Peter has been working hard to deliver for Vermonters and always puts their interests first.”

    When asked about his industry donations during a U.S. Senate debate hosted by VTDigger in September, Welch answered, “Well, all of my contributions and all my expenditures are disclosed, and every one of my votes is based on my judgment about what's best for voters.” He pointed to his endorsement by End Citizens United, a campaign finance reform advocacy group, and decried “dark money” in politics.

    Asked in a follow-up question how such industry groups represented the interests of everyday Vermonters, Welch said, “Well, it can be a labor PAC, where you've got individuals who are part of the unit who are contributing to the PAC. It can be farmers who are contributing to the PAC.”

    “And keep in mind, that amount, the most it can be is $5,000 and it has to be disclosed,” Welch continued. “So I am proud to get contributions from people through their joint effort to contribute to my campaign.”

    American Crystal Sugar gave $10,000 to Welch by donating $5,000 to his primary campaign, plus $5,000 to his general election campaign. Both donations were recorded on Aug. 9, the day of Vermont’s primary election.

    Vermont is home to neither sugar cane nor sugar beet farmers. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, which keeps annual records on Vermont’s crop yields dating back to 1866, sugar beets were reportedly cultivated in Vermont only in 2012. A tropical plant, sugar cane has never been recorded to grow in Vermont.

    The Welch campaign’s acceptance of industry PAC donations is not new. In April, VTDigger reported on Welch’s multi-thousand-dollar contributions from PACs associated with the medical, agricultural, real estate and retail industries, among others. 

    In the most recent period, too, the Democrat received contributions from the likes of the Council of Insurance Agents and Brokers PAC ($5,000), the National Association of Chain Drug Stores PAC ($4,000), the American Institute of Architects’ PAC ($2,500), the American Veterinary Medical Association PAC ($2,000), the International Dairy Foods Association PAC ($1,000), the American Health Care Association ($1,000) and more.

    Such PACs are technically not corporate PACs, according to the FEC. They’re trade associations, defined as “a membership organization of persons engaging in a similar or related line of commerce, organized to promote and improve business conditions in that line of commerce.” While these groups do not represent individual corporations, they are often funded by corporate insiders.

    In total, in the third quarter, Welch received $266,775 from political committees. Those can include industry PACs, as well as leadership PACs organized by members of Congress, PACs operated by labor unions and more. Across this election cycle, Welch has received $878,442 in such donations, compared to over $2 million from individual donors.

    While he pledged not to accept corporate PAC donations this time around, Welch has received such donations in the past from the likes of General Electric, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Toyota, Ford, Home Depot and more. It was these donations and others that padded Welch’s U.S. House campaign account of $2.1 million, which he carried to his Senate campaign.

    Welch’s foe in the U.S. Senate election, Republican political newcomer Gerald Malloy, did not start out with the same campaign finance edge, nor has he come close to catching up.

    Malloy raised $10,000 from PACs last quarter: $5,000 each from leadership PACs affiliated with Sen. Kevin Cramer, R-N.D., and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

    In total, Malloy raised $104,625 last quarter, and ended September with $61,165 in cash on hand. In that same period, Welch received $548,818 in net contributions, according to his FEC filing, and ended the quarter with nearly $2.7 million in the bank.

    Article courtesy VT Digger

  • What are the origins of the language of Proposal 5/Article 22?

    Press Memo
    For further information, contact Mary at (802) 229-4885

    Vermonters are questioning how the language of Proposal 5 was developed and who benefits from its passage. The answer can be found in the response to a Freedom of Information Act request of the Attorney General’s Office.

    The records provided show that staff from the Attorney General’s Office worked at the behest of Planned Parenthood of Vermont, along with various legislators running for re-election in 2018, to develop the language of Proposal 5/Article 22 as well as Act 47.

    Interested members of the media can find details of the FOIA here.


    In 2019, after Prop 5 and Act 47 had passed, Planned Parenthood honored Attorney General T.J. Donovan and members of his staff, and Sen. Ginny Lyons at their annual PAC fundraiser as, "sexual and reproductive champions."

  • Thoughts on Article 22

    In a few weeks we will be asked to vote on Article 22. Proponents have told us that it is necessary to protect the “reproductive rights” (abortion rights) of Vermonters. Yet abortion is already written into Vermont Code (Title 18: Chapter 223 Subchapter 1: Freedom Of Choice Act). So then why do we need a vague and poorly written amendment filled with undefined terms? Consider also, that it is no less vulnerable to being overridden by Federal Law than the existing code, which by the way already allows unrestricted abortion,

    What exactly does “personal reproductive liberty” mean? It’s not defined anywhere. Can anyone tell me definitively what it means? Because the writers don’t seem to be able to. Perhaps more concerning, how far does “justified by a compelling State interest” go? It’s not defined in the document. Could it be a compelling state interest to abort anyone determined to likely be handicapped? Force someone on food stamps or other aid to get an abortion? How about sterilization?

    Boiled down to it’s most basic, could Article 22 actually be saying “So long as the state has no compelling interest otherwise, citizens will have reproductive autonomy,” as some have suggested? Sounds about right to me.

    Article 22 may sound good to the casual glance, but when you really look at it, and consider it, what you find is a can of worms that will benefit no one. And quite possibly cause great harm to the very freedoms we so value.

  • Help Us Ensure Votor List Integrity

    Get an extra ballot? Get one for someone not living there? Read on!

    Just yesterday I was on a local radio station and once again the very first caller wanted to talk about the problem happening in Vermont with our new mail-out ballot process.

    Well the Republican Party is taking action to correct this.  That's why we launched an "Excess Ballot" Reporting system from our website.  You can find the link here:

    If any voter has received a ballot that was sent to their address incorrectly, they can complete a report on our website that we will forward to the proper election officials for challenge or removal.

    We can't continue to allow easily solvable problems like this to cost the state money and frustrate voters with excess ballots.  If Democrats don't care about improving our election systems, then Republicans will step in and do what we can.

    Now that we've created the reporting system we need YOUR help to get the word out.  Share with your neighbors and friends.

  • "Reproductive LIberty Amendment" Debate (Sort Of)

    The Debate is on .... Kind of.

    Though the elected officials who authored Proposal 5 don't have the courage of their convictions to debate, Vermonters for Good Government Spokeswoman Representative Anne Donahue will have the opportunity to discuss the proposed amendment this Sunday with a proponent on NBC5 "In Depth."

    "While I wish the authors of this amendment would be willing to publicly defend their work, I am happy to discuss with anyone what Proposal 5 really is about - enshrining late term abortion in our state's constitution," said Representative Donahue.

    This forum entitled "Reproductive Liberty Amendment" may be your only opportunity to hear our expert, Representative Anne Donahue, discuss Proposal 5 directly with a supporter of this proposal on television.

    Sunday, October 2nd
    Debate: "Reproductive Liberty Amendment/ "In Depth"
    10:00 -10:30 AM
    NBC5 "In Depth" program

    Representative Donahue's credentials as one of the most respected and informed health care policy experts in the Vermont State House are unquestioned.

    That's why Vermonters for Good Government has been eager to engage the authors of Proposal 5 in a civil debate about the truth behind this amendment.

    Instead the authors are trying to hide the facts and convince voters this amendment is about codifying Roe vs. Wade.

    Proposal 5 is about nothing more than enshrining late-term abortion -- terminating a fully developed baby, days or hours before birth -- in Vermont's Constitution.

    Late-term abortion is not what most voters - including pro-choice voters - want in our state Constitution.

    The authors of Proposal 5 know this and that is why they have been trying to duck our debates.

    Please tune in this Sunday, October 2nd at 10:00 am on NBC5 and forward this email to your friends and family encouraging them to join you.

  • GOP Candidate for Attorney General Wants Tighter Bail, Backs Qualified Immunity

    Michael Tagliavia

    My journey to becoming a Vermonter began in 2014 after a friend moved here with his wife, who has multiple generations of Vermonters in her blood. My wife and I purchased our log cabin on a mountain in the town of Corinth in 2015 and became permanent residents in 2019.  I am impressed on a daily basis with the kindness, trust, generosity, and helpfulness of the Vermonters I come into contact with.

    But these qualities are what is allowing the Vermont lifestyle to come under attack. People no longer feel as safe as they once did in the cities and small towns of the Green Mountain State. This trend can be reversed with common sense solutions.

    Law and order must be restored in all corners of this little green gem in the northeast of this great country of ours.  My plan is to do that with simple, straight forward steps to “right the ship”. The Governor has put forward a 10-point plan to get the rising crime under wraps, and I hope to integrate my proposals into that plan.

    First, put most of the $100 million “Big Pharma” settlement money into law enforcement and drug abatement programs. This should include reopening the Windsor detention facility with a focus on addicts who have committed crimes to support their habit.  The facility would focus on rehab, treatment, and vocational training with a goal of breaking the cycle of relapse. 

    Another step would be to enhance drug interdiction efforts to stop drug traffickers before they are able to get the drugs on the street. This would include working with federal agencies where necessary. 

    An integral part of the plan must be a focus on bringing back a bail system that works to make it clear to “would be” criminals that they will be held to account. The average Vermonter does not have faith that if a person has committed a crime, they will be taken off the street, or will even be held responsible for their offense.

    Stop the revolving door! Today, a victim of theft, whether it be a stolen catalytic converter, or jewelry, or cash, has no hope of restitution. In short, the revolving door system does not work. In fact, it has only served to make the situation worse.  

    I also find it necessary to speak directly to all of the men and women in law enforcement. I oppose any reduction of qualified immunity. This has been proposed by Progressives and Democrats in the legislature. At this time in our history, I believe the best approach is to fully fund, and give the best possible training and equipment to law enforcement.

    Also, they need the support of the citizens of the towns and counties that they serve. We should get to know them and they should get to know us. Law enforcement officers swear an oath to protect and serve, and I believe that the very highest percentage of them do. Let’s not forget that they answer to the law as well. 

    Education through the LEAD program should also be expanded. This is a low cost, high impact program to educate even the youngest students of the dangers of drug abuse. 

    I am a strong proponent of Article 16 of the Vermont Constitution and the Second Amendment of the US Constitution. 

    My name is Michael Tagliavia and I am asking for your vote for Attorney General of Vermont. 


  • Welch Stock Trading Makes Front Page of New York Times.

    This month, Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate Rep. Peter Welch has received at least three pieces of bad campaign news: critical coverage of his stock trading on the front page of the New York Times, positive national news coverage of GOP darkhorse challenger Gerald Malloy, and a national poll showing Malloy just 6.5% behind him.

    Welch’s thumbnail photo appeared with many other members of Congress of both parties in an above-the-fold news story headlined “Stock Trades Reported by Nearly a Fifth of Congress Show Possible Conflicts.” The story named lawmakers owning stock in companies their committees oversee, transactions of these stocks, and lawmakers’ efforts to hide these transactions.

    The New York Times story didn’t go into detail about Welch’s eyebrow-raising stock transactions. But other media already had. 

    According to Capitol Trades, Welch was the only member of the Vermont Congressional delegation to make stock market trades in the previous three years. Almost all of his 55 trades were “sell.” The most recent “buys” occurred in March, 2020, when Welch purchased between $1000 and $15,000 shares of Medtronic, a medical equipment company; PayPal; and Consolidated Edison, an energy company serving New York City and Westchester County.

    The Washington Times reported December 28, 2021 that Welch and his wife Margaret Cheney failed to promptly report a September $6,238 sale of Exxon stock. Cheney reportedly had inherited the stock from her mother. Cheney is the former chair of the Vermont Public Service Board, the state’s ‘energy court.’ She also is a former chair of the House Natural Resources and Energy Committee, where she oversaw pro-renewable power energy legislation.

    The Exxon trade went unreported for 53 days. The tardy reporting violated a 2012 law co-sponsored by Welch regulating congressional stock sales. The law sets a 30-45 day trade reporting deadline.

    On October 28, Welch grilled Exxon’s CEO at a House hearing, including challenging his ‘credibility.’

    Those facts were not lost on a non-partisan government watchdog group, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). 

    Recent reporting shows that Rep. Welch failed to disclose that his wife sold $6,238 in ExxonMobil stock on September 17, 2021, by the November 1, 2021, deadline,” FACT reported Dec. 22. “Although Rep. Welch’s spokesperson admitted that he had learned of the trade on October 25, 2021, he grilled ExxonMobil’s CEO in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on October 28, 2021, and didn’t disclose the transaction until November 9, 2021, eight days after he was required to.

    “Rep. Welch has been a member of Congress for nearly 15 years and is well aware of the financial reporting requirements. What makes this case egregious, beyond the violation itself, is that his office acknowledged that he knew of the transaction prior to the reporting deadline and not only missed it, but grilled the ExxonMobil CEO about transparency and credibility just days later. The OCE must fully investigate this violation and apply the requisite penalties,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT.

    It also wasn’t the only tardily-reported trade. A sale of Cloetta AB worth $1000 – $15,000, went unreported for 106 days, Capitol Trades reports. Cloetta AB is a Swedish confectionary company.

    Welch’s spokesperson told the Washington Times in December he would no longer trade stock. The most recent stock transaction attributed to Welch on Capitol Trades is November 18, 2021 – a month before the December, 2021 promise. 

    Vermont Daily Chronicle published details of the Trafalgar national poll on September 11. Breitbart published its news story on September 18. The first four paragraphs are republished below:

    Vermont’s Republican U.S. Senate nominee Gerald Malloy said that “Vermonters are ready for change” after being “fed up” with the current leadership in the country during an appearance on Breitbart News Saturday.

    “I can tell you campaigning in the last seven months [with] boots on the ground… Vermonters are ready for change,” Malloy told Breitbart News Saturday host, Breitbart News’ Washington Bureau Chief Matthew Boyle.

    “Vermonters have common sense, and they see, you know, paying at the pump and paying at the grocery store, and they’re fed up with the performance… from their leadership in Congress, and they’re ready for change,” Malloy explained.

    He also noted that the campaign is moving in a “very positive” direction after a recent poll from the Trafalgar Group showed that Malloy is only 6.5 percent down from Rep. Peter Welsh (D-VT), a career politician who’s been endorsed by socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

    Courtesy Vermont Daily Chronicle

  • Serious Problems

    Many people, including myself, are starting to get their offers to pre-buy home heating fuel for the upcoming winter. My offer was almost 35% higher than what I paid just 6 months ago. Others are telling me they are paying 50% to 70% more than they pre-ordered last year. And winter pre-buying is usually supposed to be a discount – so it makes many of us wonder what this winter might have in store.

    But as bad as it will be for Vermonters to be paying hundreds more to get warm this winter, one thing to be thankful for is that if we had been missing just one Republican legislator last May to help sustain Gov. Scott’s veto on a new carbon tax, home heating fuel might have been even more expensive.

    Despite this set-back, Montpelier Democrats have promised to go back and pass the SAME bill to override Gov. Scott’s veto – unless they lose some seats. Democrats have not made any changes to their policies in light of the struggles many Vermonters are facing. Their intention is to keep pushing punitive carbon taxes that disproportionately hurt rural Vermonters.

    Adding a new carbon tax is bad enough. But because Democrats don’t want to be seen raising taxes in these economic conditions – they proposed to transfer their power to a group of unelected bureaucrats who can add and raise the tax at will and NEVER be accountable to voters for it. Then Democrats could shrug their shoulders to voters in future elections and tell them “It’s not me – it’s the board. Sorry, nothing I can do.” At best it’s irresponsible, at worst it’s unconstitutional.

    Unfortunately for Vermonters, this responsibility shirking has become all too commonplace with the Democratic Party in Vermont, and across America. If something bad happens, they always point somewhere else, but they never take responsibility for how they are going to achieve a different outcome. We elect leaders to fix problems, not just to message them better. I’m starting to think if we had a famine Democrats would point to the reduction in childhood obesity.

    Recently President Biden was asked about the 8.4% inflation we’ve been having, and his response was to brag that after last month it’s down to 8.3%. He won’t take responsibility for the 8.4% increase, but he is going to jump over the fact that it went down 0.1%. That is denial, we need determination. Rather than taking the problem seriously, and telling Americans how he is planning on fixing it he told us our concerns were unjustified because the unemployment numbers were good. Instead of fixing the problem we do have, Democrats weasel out of it by pointing you towards another problem they tell you is worse (Abortion, Trump, etc) – or trying to gaslight you into believing you are alone in your frustration. Republicans want you to know that you are NOT alone and your concerns are in fact serious. We hear you and are fighting to restore a degree of common sense to Montpelier.

    I’ve been talking to several of our House & Senate candidates who have been going door to door in our communities across Vermont for several months. We hear the serious concerns and stories of Vermonters who are having a hard time making ends meet. We understand that Biden’s distraction of unemployment numbers doesn’t help the seniors on fixed incomes when their heating and grocery bills go up, but their pension or social security doesn’t. We know that student loan forgiveness doesn’t make it easier for young electricians and plumbers trying to buy a house in a severely restricted market. We know that “reimagining” and defunding the police does not make Burlington any safer to visit or live in.

    Republicans know that we just can’t afford the Progressive Democrat agenda any more. We need to get serious about our essential energy supply and costs for workers and seniors alike. We need to make it easier to build affordable first-time homes to keep young people here, both tradesmen and professionals. We need to fully fund our local police and prosecute criminals to make our streets safer again for workers, students and tourists. While I won’t go so far as to say that Democrats can’t do that – they have made it clear that they won’t. If you think things are better now than they were two years ago, ask your neighbors, your mechanic, your senior center coordinator, your local teachers how everyone else is doing. They will tell you that something is broken and it needs real change not just better messaging. Vermont Republicans stand ready to answer the call, be your voice of reason, address the serious problems we are all experiencing, and focus on creating a Vermont that really works.

  • McClaughry: No Gasoline Powered Car Ban Until 2035

    By John McClaughry

    Relax, Vermonters. Nothing will prevent you from buying and registering your new gasoline or diesel powered sedan, SUV or light duty truck — until 2035.

    Then if the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, Vermont Natural Resources Council. Conservation Law Foundation and their allies have their way, if you want to buy a new car or truck, you’ll have only the one choice of buying a California-compliant electric car.

    In 1977 California, concerned about the persistent smog in the Los Angeles bowl caused by nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, ozone, and other harmful tailpipe emissions, obtained a Clean Air Act waiver. It allowed the state to adopt more stringent emission rules than those required of the rest of the country. Vermont signed on as a “California state” in 1996.

    California has now amended its rule to require all new cars and light duty trucks sold or registered in the state to be plug-in electric, or possibly fuel cell powered, by model year 2035.

    In smog-free Vermont, the motivation for adopting the new California rule is to reduce tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide to meet the requirements of the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2020. The Scott administration is now moving to adopt a rule that conforms Vermont to the new California rule.

    The evolution of this EV enthusiasm is interesting. A decade ago, the Vermont environmental machine demanded a sweeping carbon tax to price carbon fuel beyond the reach of ordinary consumers. But “carbon tax” became an alarming word to taxpayers, so the enviros replaced it with euphemisms such as “carbon pricing,” “cap and trade,” “cap and invest,” and “Clean Heat Standard.”

    Transportation currently accounts for 40 percent of Vermont’s CO2 emissions. The transportation component of the emissions reduction campaign was called Transportation and Climate Initiative (TCI). It was to be a 10-state agreement to impose a tax on upstream motor fuel suppliers to drive up the price of gasoline and diesel fuel — and rebate millions of dollars from the TCI taxes to the states to underwrite a large menu of subsidies. It collapsed last fall when states started to bail out.

    The Vermont Climate Council is still keen on resurrecting TCI. But with carbon taxes politically unpopular, it and its enviro allies are pushing for state action to pay — rather than tax — motorists to quit using petroleum fuel. The favored way to pay them is to offer increasing subsidies to get them to trade in their gasoline powered cars and buy electric vehicles they don’t much want and can’t otherwise afford. Since EVs are an upper income product, the subsidies have to be greater and greater until even a low income motorist can drive around in a new electric car or truck.

    Where will Vermont get the millions of dollars to pay people to switch to EVs? With TCI unavailable to bring in the big bucks, and federal pandemic spending running out, Vermonters are going to have to pay for this.

    This problem will neatly be solved — in 2035 — by adopting the California rule: stop paying people, and just prohibit them from buying or registering new internal combustion cars, SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks, whether they like it or not.

    As I’ve acknowledged since 2018, EVs have some attractive features: classy looks, quiet rides, avoiding motor fuel price volatility (although risking electric grid price increases), exemption from motor fuel taxes to pay for roads and bridges (for now), and jackrabbit acceleration (if that’s your thing).

    There are plenty of EV concerns that will make unattainable the Climate Council’s “pathway” to replacing 164,000 petroleum vehicles with EVs on Vermont’s roads by 2030. Most auto and light truck consumers will continue to choose familiar ICE vehicles because of the EV’s higher cost, uncertain resale value, servicing bottlenecks, range anxiety, slow, crowded and dysfunctional public charging stations, fading battery performance in cold weather and hilly terrain, and if dependent on the power grid for charging, whether the power grid will be dependably available to charge a hundred thousand EVs when needed.

    A foreshadowing of that latter problem occurred a month ago when California’s governor was touting its “all EV by 2035” rule, while the state’s power grid regulators, facing a serious threat of blackouts, were pleading with grid-dependent EV owners to stop charging their cars.

    The 2035 deadline is far away, but I suspect a lot of Vermont motorists, after making their own choices for the past 120 years, really won’t like the idea of the state forcing them to choose what vehicles state decrees, at the behest of clamoring enviro groups obsessed with arresting the menace of climate change. That’s especially so when eliminating ICE vehicles from Vermont will have no detectable effect whatsoever on arresting climate change.

    John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.