Lt. Gov Phil Scott said Monday morning that Sen. Norm McAllister (R-Franklin) planned to resign from the Senate as he faces sex-crime charges.
But reached Monday afternoon, McAllister said, “That’s incorrect.”
“I haven’t even talked about this with my lawyer yet. I’m going to talk with him tomorrow,” McAllister told Seven Days. “I’ve not made up my mind in any which way.”
Scott initially would not reveal who told him McAllister planned to step down, other than to say it was “an official representative” of the Franklin County Republican. He said that person told him Monday morning that McAllister would resign within the next day.
As conflicting stories swirled through the Statehouse, Scott clarified Monday evening that his go-between was Sen. Peg Flory (R-Rutland).
“I stick by what I said. I spoke with his official representative, and she informed me that he had committed to resigning, pending having his attorney review a letter of resignation,” Scott said after the Senate adjourned for the day.
Lt. Gov. Phil Scott addresses reporters Monday in the Statehouse.
Flory, standing next to Scott in the Senate chamber, confirmed the story. She said she had spoken to McAllister “numerous times over the last couple of days.”
“He indicated that given the amount of time he was going to have to spend defending these allegations, he wasn’t going to be able to serve and that he would be giving his resignation, but he was going to run it by his attorney when he met with him,” Flory said. “So I relayed to Phil that Norm had indicated last night that he would be submitting his letter of resignation.”
Speaking just after 5 p.m., Flory said she’d just talked to McAllister, and he told her he still intended to resign.
“Yes, that is still his plan — to resign,” she said. “At least, that is his plan.”
McAllister’s attorney, Brooks McArthur, did not respond to a request for comment.
Scott, Vermont’s highest-ranking Republican, told reporters outside the Senate chamber Monday morning that he thought McAllister should resign.
“I believe it is the right thing to do for everyone involved. His constituents deserve to have someone 100 percent focused on their issues," Scott said.
Scott said Monday that he had met the woman “on a couple of occasions.”
“She was in and out of our office a couple of times,” he said. “I didn’t know her well, but I knew who she was.”
The lieutenant governor said he had no reason to believe anything untoward was occurring.
“I did not. I was, obviously, like many of us, shocked at the allegations,” he said. “The seriousness of this was troubling, if true. I think that’s the part that bothers me the most: that I didn’t see any of this coming.”
Gov. Peter Shumlin addresses reporters Monday at the Statehouse.
Scott’s call for McAllister’s resignation came shortly after Gov. Peter Shumlin did the same. In a written statement released Monday morning, the governor called the allegations “incredibly troubling” and said “the right thing for him to do would be to resign from the Senate.”
Later in the day, Shumlin held a brief media availability outside his Statehouse office to address the situation.
“Having now read the details of the allegations, it’s some of the most upsetting and extraordinarily troubling allegations that I’ve ever read against a public official,” he said. “So I urge him to resign.”
House Speaker Shap Smith (D-Morristown) joined Shumlin in calling for McAllister’s resignation.
“My thinking is that Sen. McAllister should resign, given the deeply troubling allegations that have been made,” Smith said. “I think it would be difficult for him to continue to serve and be an effective senator for Franklin County in the wake of these allegations, one. Two, I think our focus right now also needs to be on the victims of this alleged abuse and trying to do right by them.”
Senate President Pro Tem John Campbell (D-Windsor) agreed. He called the allegations “extremely disturbing” and said the senator “cannot continue to serve.”
“If I was representing him as his attorney, I would probably be working on a resignation letter that actually does not do anything to incriminate him any more than he already has,” Campbell said in an interview.
The pro tem also said that the legislature needs to better protect unofficial staff.
“What's clear to me after hearing this is, from now on we're going to make a policy for the Senate: If somebody gets an intern from the law school or whatever that, number one, we know who they are,” he said. “And that those people understand that there are avenues available if something improper is happening. We want them protected.”
If McAllister resigns his post, Shumlin would be charged with naming a replacement.