by Peter Freyne
It was from a fine gentleman who used to work for a Republican statewide officeholder. He was positively dumbfounded that in its Tuesday edition The Burlington Free Press endorsed the self-funded Republican candidate in Vermont’s U.S. Senate race. That’s right. If you haven’t heard yet, the Gannett chain’s Vermont shop endorsed the $7 million man, Richie Rich Tarrant, over that living Vermont legend - eight-term Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders.
That's a shot of Richie Rich we took yesterday as he entered the Capital Plaza ballroom in Montpeculiar where, with other candidates, he spoke at the Vermont Mental Health Association gathering. Didn't really address mental health in particular, but rather Tarrant just gave his standard five-minute health care stump speech.
This comes on the heels of the Freeps surprising many with its endorsement of Democrat Peter Welch for Congress, and surprising many more with its backing of Democrat Matt Dunne for Lite-Gov. Speculation has been that the addition of highly-respected former Howard Dean press secretary Sue Allen to the Freeps editorial board had injected a heavy dose of Vermont political reality to the strange band of faceless unknowns who decide the Gannett paper’s editorial-page positions.
“Rich Tarrant offers practical and creative ideas on jobs, taxes and a more streamlined health care delivery system. He deserves a chance to bring these and other ideas to the U.S. Senate.
"Tarrant is a problem-solver. He has a background in business that would be refreshing in Congress. He is a self-starter with proven accomplishments. His ties to the state are strong. He has a solid knowledge of health care. His is a voice of moderation.”
Yes, indeed, Ol’ Tarrogant Richie does have “solid knowledge of health care.” It’s the kind of knowledge one gets by being on the executive committee of the Fletcher Allen Board of Trustees when the biggest financial scandal in Vermont history went down! And Trustee Tarrant, forced to resign in disgrace, aggressively defended until the bitter end the point man on the scheme - the crooked CEO who lied to state regulators and went to federal prison for it where he sits today.
And we did catch Republican State Rep. Anne Donohue of Northfield giving Tarrant an earful in the hallway at the Plaza over his remarks, reported in Sam Hemingway's recent story, praising convicted CEO Bill Boettcher. Donohue does not consider "community activists" bad people.
"His courage to take a strong position when community activists attack is refreshing," Tarrant, now the Republican Senate candidate, said of Boettcher in a Nov. 12, 2001, e-mail to board Chairman Phil Drumheller. "We are lucky to have Bill Boettcher."
Boy, money does talk, doesn’t it?
Any thoughts, folks?