* updated below - Blittersdorf files lawsuit*
A leading supporter of Democrat Peter Shumlin is appealing personally to Republican Brian Dubie to either prove allegations of corruption and trading campaign contributions for receiving tax credits or drop the issue.
David Blittersdorf, a cofounder of NRG Systems and now the chief executive at AllEarth Renewables, talked to Dubie personally Monday night and asked him to drop repeated claims that Blittersdorf provided campaIgn contributions to Shumlin in exchange for a seat on a board that eventually provided his firm with $4.3 million in tax credits.
In short, Shumlin appointed Blittersdorf to the Clean Energy Development Fund, which was developing the rules for renewable-energy tax credits. But, when questions arose about Blittersdorf's role as a board member and applicant, Shumlin askecd him to resign. Blittersdorf has strenuously denied that he wrote policies that benefitted his company, and never traded campaign donations for tax-credit awards.
Blittersdorf gave Dubie until Tuesday afternoon to either remove the near-libelous claims or prove them. If he couldn't prove the allegations, Blittersdorf then made it clear, through his attorney (see letter below), that the claims should be pulled from the website created by the Dubie campaign. Further legal action was, and is, on the table. For a good summary, check out Terri Hallenbeck's post at VtBuzz.
The Dubie campaign responded by issuing a press release yesterday that not only reiterated its claims of a "pay-to-play" arrangement but also circulated the letter from Blittersdorf's attorney, Ritchie Berger of Dinse, McKnapp and McAndrew in Burlington.
The press release to the media also added new allegations — pulled from a St. Albans Messenger editorial — that are patently false. The Messenger claims Blittersdorf is the founder of Green Mountain Futures — a so-called 527 group that has largely been funded by the Democratic Governors Association — and received money from it. In fact, Blittersdorf has donated to it, but that's all.
Blittersdorf late Wednesday issued a second letter (see below) directly to Dubie and asked to meet with the candidate personally.
"You have falsely accused me of 'corruption' buying 'millions of dollars in state tax credits,' and other unethical conduct. I believe you have done this knowing of, but not caring about, the blatant falsity of their accusations," wrote Blittersdorf. "In short, you have demonstrated that you will say and do anything for perceived political advantage."
Wait, "say and do anything" — isn't that how Dubie's campaign describes Shumlin? As I've noted, Dubie's negative attacks on Shumlin, and his supporters, has irreparably harmed Dubie's good-boy political image.
"After I called you pesonally two days ago to ask that you stop impugning my character, you chose to continue to publish defamatory statements concerning me," continued Blittersdorf. "I then asked my attorneys to make a firm but polite request to that effect, but your response today was to repeat and expand on [the] distortions."
Blittersdorf then challenged Dubie to provide "one shred of evidence" for any of the six allegations his campaign has laid out to reporters and the public.
"It is sad to see the Vermont Republican Party of Senator George Aiken and Deane C. Davis stoop to the current level of the Dubie campaign," concluded Blittersdorf. "Your campaign manager, who has no ties to Vermont, is fond of telling us what Vermonters think. This is one Vermonter who firmly believes the voters are way smarter than the Dubie campaign takes them for."
That Blittersdorf is a major supporter of Shumlin is no secret — donating $8000 to his campaign through both personal and corporate accounts. In addition, Blittersdorf donated $20,000 to Green Mountain Futures, a 527 interest group. As of mid-October the group had raised more than $500,000 and spent nearly as much — all on issue-oriented ads aimed at criticizing Dubie's stance on Vermont Yankee. Other than Blittersdorf's donation, all but $100 of the remaining amount raised came from the Democratic Governors Association.
This is the second time that Dubie's campaign has been asked to tone down, or remove, one of the original 12 items listed on www.shumlinsethics.com.
As I noted in "Fair Game" this week, Dubie's campaign removed an item focusing on Det. Sgt. Michael O'Neil's attempt to void Shumlin's speeding ticket. The Professional Firefighters of Vermont — who endorsed Dubie over Shumlin — were upset with the way the campaign was attacking O'Neil's credentials and unions in general. After a one-on-one meeting Monday, the campaign relented as they faced the likelihood the union would retract its endorsement and throw its support behind Shumlin.
As it stands, the union has not said if it will provide any get-out-the-vote effort on Dubie's behalf, as they have in years past for other candidates.
Enter Blittersdorf, who, though a major Shumlin supporter, is part of the renewable-energy business community that isn't completely in Shumlin's camp. In fact, Dubie highlights Blittersdorf's companies as Vermont success stories in his 10-point, 26-page jobs plan (that is also a downloadable PDF), and at a debate earlier this month at the Renewable Energy Vermont conference Dubie and Shumlin sounded more alike than different when it comes to pushing for more renewable energy development in Vermont.
Could attacking Blittersdorf so publicly backfire the way it did with the firefighters — one of the only unions to support Dubie? Assailing Blittersdorf's personal integrity because of his political support for Shumlin may be too much for some renewable-energy developers to stomach.
With the race a toss-up, can either candidate really afford to risk losing voters who could swing either way on the final day?
Photo credit: Andy Duback
Blittersdorf legal letter to Dubie: Download Blittersdorf
Blittersdorf personal letter to Dubie: Download Brian Dubie Letter 10-27-10
* Update *
Late this afternoon, CEO David Blittersdorf filed a lawsuit against Brian Dubie, his campaign manager Corry Bliss and the "Friends of Brian Dubie" campaign. The lawsuit was filed in Vermont Superior Court in Burlington.
"In their reckless zeal to impugn Defendant Dubie's political opponent, Defendants have maliciously chosen to attack Mr. Blittersdorf with false and defmatory statements," wrote Blittersdorf's attorney Ritchie Berger.
The suit alleges Blittersdorf has suffered damage to his reputation, standing in the community and his business. In addition, he's suffered humiliation, embarassment and mental pain.
Download a copy of the Blittersdorf lawsuit: Download Complaint - stamped filed (B0624389)