By the numbers: Brock outspends Shumlin on consultants, advertising and lends himself $300,000

Randy Brock said that Shumlin's investigation into possible criminal activity by a state trooper isn't a large enough step in what he says is a "systemic" over-spending on overtime in Vermont. VTD Photo/Taylor Dobbs

Randy Brock said that Shumlin's investigation into possible criminal activity by a state trooper isn't a large enough step in what he says is a "systemic" over-spending on overtime in Vermont. VTD Photo/Taylor Dobbs

The latest campaign finance filings show that in the governor’s race, candidate Randy Brock raised more money than Gov. Peter Shumlin in the last year by about $37,500, with Brock’s take of $529,600 beating Shumlin’s $492,100, not counting the $187,000 the governor brought in last year.

Of that total, Brock lent himself $300,000 and raised $229,600 from contributions. In the same period, Shumlin raised $429,100 from donors, with only $1,200 coming from himself or his immediate family.

This past year, Shumlin raised about $23,800 from 378 donors contributing $100 or less, while Brock raised about $41,150 from small donors.

Shumlin’s campaign said in a statement that it was “honored and humbled by the outpouring of financial support that the campaign has received.”

Brock spent just over $280,000, mostly on local and out-of-state consultants and political communications firms, compared to Shumlin’s modest expenditures of $36,800 for the past 12 months.

Brock attributed his much higher expenditures to the need to advertise in a race against an incumbent opponent. “Gov. Shumlin has not, during this reporting period, done any advertising, to the best of my knowledge, and that’s the difference,” said Brock.

Brock conceded he needs to raise much more money during the coming months to make up for such heavy expenditures.

“A new candidate running for statewide office needs to introduce himself to an audience, and the way you do that obviously is through the Internet, TV, and all those other mechanisms,” he continued. “The governor is by virtue of incumbency, well-known.”

As for the $300,000 out of his own pocket, Brock said: “First, the loan is an amount lower than that which Shumlin loaned himself in the first gubernatorial campaign; and second, one of the purposes of advancing this money is that, I don’t feel that I should be asking others to invest in a campaign I’m not willing to invest in myself.”

Brock said he divided his consulting and advertising expenditures into four main areas: He put Darcie Johnston, his campaign manager, in charge of fundraising, events, and local printing ($63,000); he hired Dresner, Wickers, Barbar, Sanders for general consulting and print media ($30,350); the Strategy Group for Media is buying TV and radio advertising for the campaign ($115,000); and the Prosper Group Corporation ($12,800) is handling his Internet and social media presence.

Three of Brock’s four consultants are out-of-state firms with ties to national GOP politics.

According to, the Strategy Group for Media, which has helped a number of Republicans gain office in the U.S. House, produced an ad criticizing John Kerry. The firm also has ties to the Citizens United PAC.

Brock’s consultants Dresner, Wickers, Barbar, Sanders, past clients include former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee along with several other senators, governors and congressmen.

Bob Wickers is now working as a senior advisor to Mitt Romney’s campaign. Based in San Francisco, the firm’s co-founders Wickers and Dick Dresner have both worked for former Russian President Boris Yelstin.

Brock said he hired Dresner, Wickers, Barbar, Sanders, because Wickers had worked on Vermont campaigns going back to 1988 for James Jeffords, and Dresner helped with Brock on his first 2004 auditor campaign.

Although none of the sampling of past and current clients on the firm’s website is associated with Vermont, Brock speculated on why: “Maybe because Vermont is so small, they don’t advertise their Vermont clients there.”

The Prosper Group Corp., an Indiana firm with an office in Alexandria, Va., focuses on online political strategies and telephone campaigns, boasts high-profile clients like Democrat Harry Reid and Republican Christine O’Donnell.

The Prosper Group registered the IP address for Brock’s website this year and last year used the same address for the Vermonters for Health Care Freedom website, a 501(c)4 advocacy group that opposes Shumlin’s single payer health care reform effort. Ditto seven candidates for the U.S. Congress, including Scott Brown, the Republican U.S. Senator from Massachusetts. (VHCF was founded in March 2011 by Johnston. She left the group to manage Brock’s campaign.)

Shumlin, too, spent money on an outside consultant — $1,500 on Lori LaFave, a Virginia Democratic fundraising consultant and wife of leading Democratic media player Steve Murphy.

He also paid Amanda McKay, an executive assistant to Howard Dean and member of the Vermont PAC Democracy for America, about $1,650: McKay has worked on the campaigns of various congressmen nationwide, in states like Florida and New York.

Erika Wolffing, the finance director for Shumlin’s campaign, said she didn’t know why the campaign brought in McKay specifically for fundraising consulting, but said that she mainly worked to “keep some money coming in, and do some fundraising on the side.”

As for McKay’s connection with former Gov. Dean, Wolffing said: “Obviously Gov. Dean was very supportive of us in the 2010 cycle. That relationship continues to be very strong in this campaign cycle, and it’s a pretty well-known connection.”

Meanwhile, the Vermont Democratic Party has hired Stanford Campaigns, a Texas firm, to conduct opposition research into Brock’s tenure as state auditor in 2005 and 2006, according to the Vermont Press Bureau. An analyst with placed a public records request with the state auditor’s office in June.

Shumlin hired the company, which has a reputation for “negative tactics,” according to the bureau, during his 2010 gubernatorial race against Republican Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie. Shumlin narrowly won that election.

Stanford Campaigns has worked for dozens of Democratic candidates who served in Congress. Most notably, the firm has consulted with NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Service Employees International Union, which boasts 2.1 million members. SEIU made a large contribution ($6,000) to Shumlin this campaign finance cycle.

CORRECTION: Sen. Harry Reid was mistakenly identified as a Republican in the original post of this story.

Nat Rudarakanchana


  1. Mike Kerin :

    I bet there are Vermonters who are well qualified to consult with Brock. Too bad he has to bring in outsiders to help him. Those out of state consultants will bring their bag of dirty tricks like Rove has.

    • Craig Powers :

      Just like Shumlin hiring Stanford Campaigns from Texas, who are digging deep in the Governor’s bag for “dirty tricks”.

  2. Ron Pulcer :

    Olympic team uniforms: “Made in China”.

    Campaign consulting: “out of state”. So much for “job creation” in Vermont!

    Do they hire out-of-state consulting firms because the “taxes are lower” in these other states?!? In this case, Sen. Brock and Gov. Shumlin are the so-called “job creators”, except the jobs are not in Vermont.

    Having Cory Bliss flashbacks?

    Down here in central Vermont, I never understood the effectiveness of TV ads in Vermont, since the Burlington stations target northeast Vermont and upper New York. The other TV stations also advertise in New Hampshire. In central and southern VT, we don’t have any local broadcast TV affiliated stations.

    Why not come down to places like Rutland’s Paramount Theater and actually have a DEBATE? Two years ago, Dubie and Shumlin couldn’t be bothered with holding a debate in Rutland and other cities.

  3. Doug Gibson :

    Hopefully, Mr. Brock is employing First Step or Deerfield as his “local” printing companies. These are both union print shops (only?) right here in Vermont doing quality work, and they are blind to politics.

    Show the U.S. Olympic Committee how to do it right.

  4. William Boardman :


    By William Boardman [email protected]

    Randy Brock, Republican candidate for Governor of Vermont, probably didn’t mean it to come out this way, but his Friday July 13 fundraising pitch that focuses on Republican Governors turns out to be a boost for current Vermont Governor, Democrat Peter Shumlin. Or it would be if anyone paid close attention to reality.

    At the center of Brock’s pitch is that “a recent study showed that of the 17 states that elected Republican governors in 2010, every single one has reduced its unemployment rate.” Brock doesn’t identify this “study,” but it appears to be an avowedly partisan, two-page report from the late Andrew Breitbart’s website.

    The Breitbart website links to a self-identified Tea Party site on Examiner.Com, where most anyone can post most anything. As it turns out, the report is somewhat longer and more balanced but just as partisan as Breitbart’s, even though it incluses a sampling of states with Democratic governors that Brock, like Breitbart, omits.

    Not that the level of intellectual honesty goes up much as a result, since both postings rely on the same skewed reference point – governors elected in 2010, of whom there were 25, or half of all governors, which would tend to prove what? If you took ALL the governors, you’d find that the national unemployment rate has been dropping since 2010 and almost every single state has reduced unemployment. The sole exception is New York, where the unemployment rate has increased from 8.1% to 8.6% under a Democrat elected in 2010.

    In other words, Brock’s highly selective sample of 2010 governors is producing results similar to every other governor but one. But that wasn’t Brock’s point.

    Brock starts his pitch suggesting that, “If you want to be successful, do what successful people do.” Then he argues that that advice means that Vermont “should follow the lead of what other successful states have done and elect a Republican governor.”

    What’s missing in this logic? Michael Durwin, a professional in branding and marketing, commented on the Breitbart posting: “It’s missing the fact that on average, Republican states have a SLOWER decline [in unemployment] than Democratic states with a few very notable exceptions.“

    Clarifying his point, Durwin added: “While Kansas and Michigan have no doubt had miraculous turnarounds, they leave out the fact that Massachusetts has had a 1.6% decrease in unemployment and while our rate is 6%, Nevada is at 11.6% even with the drop, California is at 10.8%, Georgia is 8.9%, Kentucky and Arizona are at 8.2%, South Carolina is at 9.1%. States with Republican governors have the worst unemployment (as well as fewest insured, highest in poverty) and with the exception of those few standouts have had, on average, less job growth than the national average…. Here are the real numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

    Brock doesn’t talk about specific states, but if he did, using the Bureau of Labor Statistics, he’d have to report that Vermont’s unemployment rate of 4.6% in May 2012 was LOWER than all but one of the class of 2010 Republican-governed states he suggests emulating. The exception is South Dakota, which has an unemployment rate of 4.3% and an oil boom going on nearby.

    Among Brock’s most admired states, Nevada’s 11.6% unemployment rate is more than twice Vermont’s, and South Carolina is close at 9.1%, while Michigan, Florida, and Georgia each has 8% unemployment or more.

    Vermont was one of eight states that elected a Democrat in 2010, the magic election that inspired Brock to repeat the old saying, “If you want to be successful, do what successful people do.” In the terms Brock lays out, the Vermont governor has been successful, not that his opponent intends to imitate him.

    Referring to the current governor’s effort to achieve universal health care for Vermonters, Brock’s campaign promise is that “I will repeal Governor Shumlin’s Titanic Care and grow jobs,” which manages to be both a scare tactic and probably an oxymoron.



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