Activists protest outside conservative Super PAC funder’s house

Peter Sterling and Kathie McClure stand outside Lenore Broughton's house in Burlington. Photo by Andrew Stein

Peter Sterling and Kathie McClure stand outside Lenore Broughton’s house in Burlington. Photo by Andrew Stein

A small crowd of protesters funneled through the streets of Burlington’s Old North End on Thursday, heading to the Henry Street home of Lenore Broughton, who has backed Vermonters First, a Super PAC.

In the face of accusations that they were trying to bully the conservative political financier, the protesters said they simply wished to talk her out of financing a campaign against a single-payer, publicly funded health care system.

No discussion ensued, however, because Broughton did not come to the door. The house appeared empty, save for a lone traffic cone by the front entrance and electric orange construction tape lining the porch.

With protesters peacefully brandishing pro single-payer signs on the street, Peter Sterling, director of the single-payer advocacy group Vermont Leads, walked up to Broughton’s doorstep and left a letter.

“We believe the current system relying on private insurance companies is failing our state as evidenced by the 47,000 uninsured Vermonters and the additional 120,000 under-insured Vermonters,” read the letter. “We ask you to sit down and talk with us about stopping your campaign that will have very serious financial and health consequences for almost every Vermonter.”

Broughton is the only known contributor to the Vermont-based, conservative super PAC called Vermonters First. As of September’s campaign finance filing, she had donated $100,000 in funds and $34,000 in services. Based on a VTDigger investigation with the Investigative News Network, she is also the sixth top political donor in the state.

Thursday’s protest came almost one month after the super PAC aired its third television advertisement, which warned Vermonters that shifting to a single-payer system would cause the largest tax hike in state history — a claim that VTDigger and Seven Days’ “Fact Checker” found to be true.

Organized by Sterling, the demonstration began at Pomeroy Park, just off of North Street, and finished at Broughton’s home around the corner. Only about 15 protesters showed up and the media cavalry that ensued rivaled that number.

“I asked everyone to come out today not to protest Ms. Broughton’s right to participate in the political process,” said Sterling. “It is her radical agenda for health care reform that I think needs to be publicized. Ms. Broughton wants a future without public health care, instead relying on private markets to provide affordable health care.”

VTDigger was unable to reach Broughton for comment.

The protesters

The protest featured speeches from Sterling; Mari Cordes, president of the Vermont Federation of Nurses and Health Professionals; and Kathie McClure, known nationally as the “Purple Bus Lady.”

Sterling is the founder of Vermont Leads, a 501(c)(4) advocacy group funded by the SEIU, a national union, that has launched a media and grassroots campaign for a publicly funded health care system. Cordes has been an outspoken single-payer health care activist associated with the Vermont Workers Center.

McClure, who is a licensed attorney from Georgia and a blogger for the Huffington Post, has traveled roughly 30,000 miles over the past four years, advocating across the U.S. for more affordable health care. And she has done so in her little purple bus.

Kathie McClure and her purple bus. Photo by Andrew Stein

Kathie McClure and her purple bus. Photo by Andrew Stein

McClure took to the road and formed the nonprofit when her epileptic daughter and diabetic son’s health insurance costs shot through the roof.

“As our kids got to the point where … we couldn’t keep them on our policy, we realized they were headed into the health care buzz saw,” she said. “They were going to face a lifetime of unaffordable premiums that were probably going to hamstring them for the rest of their lives.”

She realized that there were scores of families in the same situation as hers, and her family couldn’t change the health care system on its own. So, one night, she turned to her husband and told him she wanted to hit the road to advocate for health care reform across the United States. The only thing she needed, she said, was a bus. McClure found a bus and painted it purple. Since 2008, she has visited 38 states.

“I think you’re doing a great thing here in Vermont, and I’m glad to see you’re moving toward a single-payer system,” she told the Vermont crowd. Then, she made for the bus and hopped behind the wheel.

Driving slowly down the street, the protesters followed her to Broughton’s house, while small children looked on wide-eyed from nearby windows.

One of those protesters was University of Vermont senior Emily Reynolds, who majors in biochemistry. She plans to practice medicine and hopes to do so on the platform of a reformed health care finance system.

“I’ve been volunteering in hospitals since I was 15, and I’ve just seen too many people die because they couldn’t get health care,” she said. “It’s really sad for providers; it’s really sad for communities; and it’s costing us a fortune. This woman (Broughton) is using a lot of money to put up a lot of bad publicity and smear the (single-payer) campaign … and I think someone needs to stand up to that agenda.”

Reynolds said that while studying comparative health systems in Norway, she was extremely impressed by the Scandinavian nation’s single-payer model.

“If you look at single payer over there it’s just so much less expensive,” she said. “Sometimes we spend up to 30 percent of a health care budget on administration. That’s just absurd. In a functioning system you spend 5-10 percent and a lot more money would go to actually treating patients. Right now, a lot of it is going to making a lot of CEOs a lot of money.”


More than 30 minutes before the protest began, the founder of Vermonters First, Tayt Brooks, issued a press statement criticizing Vermont Leads.

“Vermont Leads should be ashamed of itself and its leaders for staging an angry protest at the private residence of a respected Vermont citizen,” he wrote. “This action is not only threatening but it is clearly meant to intimidate and silence a citizen. … These types of gatherings are better suited for the streets and public facilities and should never be used to bully another in their home.”

In Brooks’ press release, he quoted Broughton, who took a jab at Vermont Leads for receiving funds from out-of-state groups.

“I support Vermonters First because I believed outside groups were coming into our state and drowning out the voices of the people who actually live here,” said Broughton. “Now I know it for a fact. They’re outside my house. We should not allow ourselves to be bullied in our state, and I’m sure Vermonters won’t.”

Single payer protester. Photo by Andrew Stein

Single payer protester. Photo by Andrew Stein

Sterling said that this isn’t an incident of bullying, but rather a group of people practicing their democratic right to assemble in a public place. Due to the cloaked nature of super PACs, representatives from Vermont Leads thought this would be the most effective method for protesting Vermont First robotic calls, mass mailings and a television ad that aimed to create a “scare campaign” around a single-payer system, Sterling said.

“If any corporation were running a similar ad campaign, we would go to their corporate offices and hold a rally with the exact same event, saying: ‘We believe health care reform is too important to be left to for-profit corporations, public health care is important,'” he said. “Now, we can’t do that in the case of Vermonters First. You can’t protest outside of a P.O. box.”

Chris Curtis, chair of Vermont Leads, brushed aside the comments about bullying.

“This is all about an important public policy issue and it’s not about personalities,” he said. “It’s part of our mission to provide education and outreach, so making public statements and standing up for single payer is an important part of what we do, and that’s what we’re doing here today.”

Brooks and Broughton weren’t the only ones to question Vermont Leads’ tactics. Kristin Sohlstrom, who works in the private health insurance sector, told VTDigger that she too feels bullied. What she’s particularly bothered by, she said, is her inability to comment or interact with others on Vermont Leads’ Facebook page. When she sent Sterling a message about the issue, she said he didn’t get back to her.

“I have no idea what has gotten me censored because there has been no response,” she wrote via email.

When Sterling was asked whether his organization censors its Facebook page, he said it does, but within reason.

“We have had to censor people who use profanity — people who are really vexed. There is a difference between having a discussion of the role of private sector in providing health care and calling people names like fascist or socialist,” he said. “For those people, yeah, we have not allowed them to participate in the discussion because it just drags it down.

“As the old saying goes: The problem with fighting with a pig is that you both get dirty, but the pig likes it.”

Correction: The protest was held on Thursday. 

Andrew Stein


  1. Kristin Sohlstrom :

    Only the weak see a need to stifle the voice of the individual.

    • Paula Schramm :

      I don’t think Lenore Broughton is all that weak, really.

      • Kristin Sohlstrom :

        This article isn’t just about Lenore Broughton. It’s also about Peter Sterling admitting to silencing and censorship. When he decides which voices to keep on the Vermont Leads facebook page, he determines for YOU which voices you will hear so is therefore controlling your conversations with other Vermonters. Like I said, only the weak need to do that.

    • Kathie McClure :

      Lenore Broughton may be one woman but she’s using her considerable wealth to influence public opinion. We protesters were using our voices to disagree with her. Welcome to democracy!

      • Patricia Crocker :

        And you would have no problem with people showing up to protest outside your home? And what about all the people who live in that neighborhood who have nothing to do with any of this? People have first amendment rights, yes, but most people use those rights with ethical standards and in the public square. You people are nothing but bullies!

        • Paula Schramm :

          Yes, Patricia, I would have no trouble having a quiet,respectful crowd like that show up to bring me a letter inviting a discussion. With the press there, I would be glad of an opportunity to reasonably make a case for what I believed in.

          Especially if the group stayed in the public space outside my home, and did not seem to be threatening in any way and I could see there was press present. A great opportunity to show just why it is I’m willing to spend so much of my money on things I believe in !

          But then again, if I didn’t feel like running my mouth as I’ve been doing so much about this, I would just let them quietly go away after a few minutes, which is what they actually did.

          • Paula Schramm :

            Perhaps this isn’t as clear as I would like it : I mean MYSELF “running my mouth”, not anyone else !

            I certainly have been commenting a lot on this topic, because it feels so important to thoroughly discuss it. To me it’s all about Citizens United, how do we keep our democracy, should we really give the hugest microphone to those individuals who have the most money ? What has happened to “campaign finance reform ? It seems to me the Supreme Court has just chucked it out the window ! What do we do about this ? !

        • Ludo Robertson :

          Don’t like protesters outside of the woman’s house on a public road? TOUGH. Democracy can be a bitch. I am glad some people are willing to protest. Without them, African Americans could be disenfranchised; children would have no child labor laws to protect them; and Ms. Broughton…would still not be able to vote!

  2. Craig Powers :

    Peter Sterling would not even attend a health care forum held in Manchester earlier in the year to answer questions regarding health care. Now he wants to have a conversation to take VT forward with someone he disagrees with? What a hypocrite.

  3. diane ballou :

    It seems I always run out of money just before the election, but I m sure it only seems that way. They called Lenre the lone donor, but to me she is the Lone Ranger and we don t deserve her.

  4. I agree with Kristin. Only the weak need to stifle the voice of a private citizen.

    Is this the new Vermont debate strategy: “Let’s make a list of people who donate to causes we disagree with, and then we will stage protests and media events in front of their houses!”

    Oh yeah. According to this group, their only choice was to protest at her house or a P. O. Box. Sure. What about parks, town halls, town greens, Montpelier in front of the state house? They never heard of public places where such protests and rallies are traditionally held?

    Of course they knew of such public places. They just chose to be bullies.

    • Ross Laffan :

      Are you sure you agree with Kristin? Her comment can be taken more than one way it seems to me.

      • Kristin Sohlstrom :

        How so, Ross? I was stifled with no response and no explanation. I’m not one of the people who use terms like “socialist” because those folks have NOT been blocked from the Vermont Leads Facebook page and are still posting comments like that. It must be I was saying something the leaders didn’t want you to know or this guy is all about silencing women.

        This is the danger of pro-Democracy groups, folks. You choose your leader then they steal your voice. The dirty little secret is, they know this and hope you don’t find out.

  5. susan santerre :

    When are we going to wake up and see what is happening all around us? These people’s actions are disrespectful, disgusting, and disturbing to say the least! Yet, we are suppose to sit back and tolerate this type of behavior, in the name of free speech? Their definition of “free speech” is “whatever we do for our cause is fine”. For example, Even young children are taught that it is against the law to put anything in someone’s mailbox; yet we can read about this guy delivering Lenore a letter (which was put in her mailbox according to another report)…why is that ok? An ordinance was just passed regarding staying 30 feet away from an entrance to an abortion clinic because, among other reasons, the people going into the clinic were feeling harassed, scared and intimidated. Yet, it’s totally fine to gather around a citizen’s private residence, go up on her porch, and “illegally” put something in her box??? Is she not suppose to feel harassed, scared & intimidated? What’s the difference??? I’m pleased to read that there are common sense folk out there who, though on the other side of the political aisle, are standing up for Lenore’s rights. This “event” got plenty of press; even though, as you’ve stated, the press corp came close to outnumbering the protestors. Why is that?? Is it right that a picture of Lenore’s house is plastered online and in the papers?? If the roles were reversed, and a conservative group were protesting outside of, oh, let me see, just about any one of our liberal politicians houses…how long would it be till the police were called & they were asked to leave?? Would the press have pictures of those peoples’ residences plastered all over their news stories??? I doubt it. This is about much more than Single Payer Healthcare. It’s about losing our freedoms by the very fact that our Constitution is being “redefined” by the left; and it’s time for folks to stand up to this type of bullying (SEIU,for example), regardless of political affiliations. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t want health care reform. There’s a big difference between “reform” and “government takeover”. I prefer to choose for myself & not have the “powers to be” decide for me & my family. We need to realize that in many ways, our lovely state is being used as a “petri dish” for many, many government “experiments”, which are NOT beneficial to us, or our State. Wake up Vermont, while we still have a voice. Take a stand. Listen to both sides before you make up your minds about these issues; for your own sake, and the sake of our families. As was said a few years ago, and is just as pertinent today….it’s time to TAKE BACK VERMONT! Vermont is ALL OF THE PEOPLE, not just those sitting in Montpelier. Thank you Lenore, for all you’ve done and all you’re doing. You are a true Patriot!

    • Justin Farrar :

      Thank you Susan! The left has no respect for the values this country was built on and are destroying this country!

  6. Brian Caldwell :

    Keep up the great work Lenore Broughton. As the old saying goes, if you throw a rock and a dog yelps, you hit your mark. Sounds like the dogs are yelping loudly…….

    • Paula Schramm :

      Hmm….. stoning dogs is ” great work “? Sounds like those Republicans really ARE mean sons a’guns.

  7. Kay Trudell :

    Let’s see . . . the political left has the right to freedom of speech and thought, but a private citizen on the political right does not. These protesters are socialist bullies. SEIU is a large, socialist, out-of-state urban union with no locals in Vermont. Check them out on YouTube. You can see pictures of them marching in their purple shirts and carrying Communist flags. The pictures speak for themselves. I was a union member for 20 years, but I am absolutely opposed to what these bullies did to a private citizen. Lenore is not even a public elected official. You want to intimidate private citizens? There are many of us out here who understand what you are trying to do, and we are not intimidated. We are only too aware of how some socialists have behaved in past history. They marched in the streets, damaged property, beat people up, and tried to bully their opponents. SEIU has actually done this out-of-state. You are not the only ones that have freedom of speech; so do we. And we will continue to assert that basic First Amendment right. Go home, you out-of-state political bullies. How come it is okay for SEIU and similar groups to funnel $100,000 in out-of-state money into Vermont to help fund Peter Shumlin’s single-payer healthcare scheme, but not okay for a Vermont private citizen to make large donations to a right-leaning political PAC? We are free citizens of the U.S. and the state of Vermont. We remember well your comments about Vermont being a petri dish. We are not lab rats. You will not silence Lenore, or people who believe in individual liberty, with your bullying tactics.

  8. They are upset with Lenore because she spent her own money to influence politics in her home state? When it comes to money influencing politics in Vermont, what about the $500,000 the Robert Woods Johnson Foundation gave to the Green Mountain Care Board to push the single payer approach? What about Susan Baker of VPIRG being the Vermont representative of the George Soros and Tides Foundation supported Health Care for America Now? This is the group that funded a study in 2009 about the cost of health insurance in Vermont. The study was used to justify the move to single payer, but no mention was made that the high cost of insurance is a result of other reforms that increased the role of the Vermont state government in the health care market and drove out numerous private insurers. What about the Universal Health Care Action Network out of OHIO? On their website there is section called “Help Vermont Win”, that has the following description of their interest in Vermont:

    “Vermont is leading the way to universal health care using national reform as a springboard and based on a single payer system.If one state can make real progress on comprehensive health reform, that will help all of us no matter where we are in the struggle in our own states!”

    They did not stop with a website promotion of the efforts going on here in Vermont to push single payer, but actually sent out a fundraising letter to sympathetic groups from all around the country asking them to donate to the push for single payer in Vermont.

    VPIRG itself takes in an average annual amount of about $1 million between its 501(c)3 and 501(c)4 branches and employs 8 registered lobbyists, which swells to anywhere from 9- 14 depending on the year. They are constantly at, or near, the top of of the list of groups in Vermont who employee lobbyists. Those who support a free market approach to addressing social ills cannot even come close to matching these resources. Now, when a single Vermonter steps forward to use her own resources to try and provide a small bit of balance to the debate, her effort is met with tactics that have absolutely no place in a society that values open debate.

    • Patricia Crocker :

      Right on Robert! These people simply use selective moral indignation. Their motto is “Do as I say, not as I do!”

      • Paula Schramm :

        Patricia Crocker – I’m not talking about money spent on issues by lobby groups, which are traceable and can be held accountable. I’m not talking about George Soros or Sheldon Adelson or the Koch Brothers….. I’m talking about a new development in Vermont politics that has suddenly appeared on the scene: a super PAC supposedly funded by one person ( we don’t even know for sure) that is involving itself in all individual candidates’ races all the way down to state representative level, and not accountable to any party, or anybody.

        I am” upset with Lenore” because her super PAC is funding “factually challenged”campaign materials to be sent to practically every home in Vermont telling people all the candidates they should vote for, including state representatives, and supplying absentees ballot applications & addressed envelopes. This so far has happened 3 times to each household. This amounts to thousands of dollars of support directly to candidates in races that typically do not spend huge amounts of money. Our local campaigns depend on community fund-raisers, “meet-and-greets” and going door-to-door. As I’ve asked elsewhere here, how can the ordinary citizen in their town compete with this new super PAC flood of money & misinformation ?
        On top of that, any candidate or party can deny any responsibility for what is said in these mailings….any garbage can be written and there is no accountability, as there is with similar Party-affiliated glossy mailings.
        This is legal these days, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United, but is it right ? Is this what Vermont-style politics will become. Does it have much to do with democracy when one person can outspend every candidate for state representative in my county ?

        • patricia crocker :

          How does the media fit into this? The pro-single payer side has a media monopoly for the most part. The media pushes a liberal agenda. Conservative groups try to get their message out and press releases never get published. Several groups that I belong to have had to resort to paying for ads to make sure that it gets in the papers, and even then, it gets buried and is hard to find. This lack of true journalism has pushed people to the point that they feel the need to put money behind their message. If you want to complain about Citizens United, then you must put media outlets in that mix. They are corporations too, and they are heavily biased towards the liberal agenda.

  9. Annette Renaud :

    Lenore. Beautiful Lenore, did you ever think that we would ever live in a time where your politically views and support would target a person to bully tactics? Did you ever think that independent and self-reliant Vermonters would forgo demanding Montpelier to bring jobs for citizen sustainability to vote for programs instead? Did you ever think that Vermonters would vote into office a man like Bernie? What a ponzie scheme he has going…..takes 1000 from you and hands you 50 like he is doing you the favor…..I am not quite getting the logic….He is not bringing anything to Vermont..wouldn’t you rather have kept the 1000? God bless you, Lenore….wake up? We sure need to…….

    • Paula Schramm :

      Probably don’t really need to speak up for Bernie, because plenty of people in this state have been helped by him and through the legislation he has worked for. But just want to mention the health and dental clinics he helped establish in my town and neighboring town, working with local people. Because there is a sliding scale fee service, many people now can pay what they can afford, and finally get the dental and health care they need. It’s been a very positive thing for our community.

  10. Mike Kerin :

    Money is not speech.

    • Craig Powers :

      Then VT Leads should not have been there with their $300K from the out of state union. Works both ways, Mike.

      • Mike Kerin :

        You’re right. I repeat, money is not speech. On either side!

        • Paula Schramm :

          Mike is absolutely right. You need money to stand up against money. If the Supreme Court is going to change the way campaigns are run by saying “money is speech” and you can spend as much as you want, then the one with the most money has the biggest megaphone and can drown everyone else out.

          It’s crazy…’s NOT democracy, but unfortunately it’s what we’ve got to deal with until we can change it. The money from Vermont Leads is spent by Vermonters, and it is run by Vermonters, and there were no “outsiders” gathered peaceably to petition Ms. Broughton except for their guest Kathy McClure who has travelled the country on her own supporting universal health care because of her own experience with her two daughters. Ms. Broughton could only benefit from hearing her story, which definitely is NOT propaganda !

          Something like 64 Vermont towns voted to amend the constitution to say that money is not speech and corporations are not people. The legislature passed a similar resolution ( though, surprise, surprise, many Republicans voted AGAINST that !). Let’s do all we can to get back to a healthy democracy… let’s get big money OUT of politics !

          • Patricia Crocker :

            And you folks never factor in money when it comes to the media who are overwhelmingly liberal and are mothpieces for the Democrats and Progressives! Last time I checked, media companies are corporations with lots of money!

          • Patricia Crocker :

            That’s “Mouthpieces” for the democrats and Progressives

      • Paula Schramm :

        The interesting thing is that Vermont Leads is about an issue : universal, affordable health care. It’s an issue that “the out of state union” supports because their membership includes care givers. But Vermont Leads is a Vermont organization run by Vermonters, who are making all the decisions about using this money. One thing they are NOT doing with it is supporting candidates’ campaigns all over the state. They are trying to educate people about the health care law, give information and encourage discussion and support of the issue.

        What Lenore Broughton’s super PAC is doing is supporting candidates at every level. It’s one thing to have the parties send out slick literature on your local candidates, but to have this one individual responsible for, so far,not one, not two, but THREE glossy ads for my town Rep., who she perhaps doesn’t even know, along with 3 absentee ballot applications and enough scary language to make you RUN with it to the post office, well….that just seems too much. Did I mention the robo-call too, for this same candidate ? How do local people compete with this ?

  11. Annette Renaud :

    I am the soil. I have been around the boundaries of Vermont before there were even borders. I fought for Vermont to separate from New York AND from New Hampshire. My blood, my sweat, and my tears covered the ground as my mine eyes could see the vision of true self government, independence, freedom, innovation, and faith. I knew, as well as other fellow soldiers that we did not deserve to sub-serve ourselves to any one government entity. I gave my life for the cause over and over again.

    My heart is breaking over the take over of what we fought so hard to relieve ourselves. Generations later, I am again at the crossroads: Do I accept the ‘program’ and fall in line or do I demand my right to provide and gain my independence?….What to do..and who am I? I am a generational Vermonter who has been raised on the family stories of my ancestors. The sacrifices were great as the battle over the hearts and minds of Vermonters raged. Just as it is today…for a few years of discomfort to bring self evident and inalienable freedoms back to our children…so that they can be trained and taught what it means to truly be free.

  12. walter moses :

    quoath the raven………………

  13. Marianne Ward :

    Protests are intended to educate the masses in public squares. Targeting someone at their home on a secluded street is not a protest – it’s harrassment, and could easily incite fear in anyone singled-out.

    While I support single-payer, and am opposed to Ms. Broughton using her financial advantage to impose her political will on Vermonters, I cannot support Vermont Leads’ bullying tactics. They have crossed the line of fair-play and decency.

    The solution – Get money out of politics!!

    • Kathie McClure :

      Marianne – I agree, let’s get money out of politics!

      As for the protest, this has been blown completely out of proportion. We did our public speaking in a nearby park. Then we walked, peaceably, to her home to drop off a letter requesting the opportunity for further discussion. We did not raise our voices. We took a few pictures and left.

      We would’ve happily taken our concerns to Ms. Broughton’s SuperPac if it had an office but it only has a PO Box.

      • Patricia Crocker :

        But why did you feel the need to walk to her home? You still violated the sanctity of someone’s home and illegally placed mail in her mailbox! Yes, it is a Federal offense to place anything other than official mail in a mailbox. You could have easily had your little protest at the park and put your letter in the mail. It is all on videotape and I hope someone actually charges your group with mail fraud! You people are despicable!

        • Paula Schramm :

          They did have their “little protest” at the park a few blocks away.

          • patricia crocker :

            You obviously missed the part in my statement about putting the letter in the official mail (legally), instead of leading the caravan down to her private home and committing mailfraud and illegally place it in her mailbox. You obviously had to trespass and go on her property to put it in her mailbox (illegally.

          • Paula Schramm :

            Patricia, I didn’t miss that part”, I just wasn’t a witness, so I didn’t feel I could comment on something I didn’t see.
            The protest & speakers at the park was on news video.

  14. Paula Schramm :

    I’m afraid I have a very different view of Lenore Broughton’s super Pac efforts. They started coming to my attention when I got her first mailing, filled with misleading and inaccurate information ,meant to scare people out of their pajamas, along with absentee ballot application & addressed envelope. I’ve been doing what a normal citizen does to support the local candidate for Rep. from my town, knocking on doors, helping with fund-raisers, writing a letter in the local paper. But I don’t have money to compete with this slick propaganda going out to everyone in town. What’s worse, by now I’ve had a total of THREE slick mailings, a robo-call, and have turned on the TV at news time to see at least 4 different TV ads echoing the mis-information in these mailings. This is so lop-sided and undemocratic, that just one person can put so much money into supporting one of the candidates at my town level….Ms. Broughton probably doesn’t even know this candidate ! This is real bullying . It’s something new in Vermont, to have super PACS involved in our elections.

    I don’t think individuals with money should have such a big megaphone that they can drown out the average citizens in their own small towns. It’s the right of those Vermonters to peaceably assemble and petition for their grievances ! It’s as American as apple pie, it’s legal and if there had been a headquarters or office building to gather in front of, they would have gone there….but there is no such place.
    This is not an attempt to keep someone from having free speech. This is about using our constitutional right of free speech to respond legally to someone who is using their own free speech rights to spread propaganda that is mis-information and objectionable. It is being spread all over the state and attempting to affect candidate races down to a very personal level. It is an important part of democracy to respond, and in the one way an ordinary citizen can face the wealthy and powerful is to hold them accountable for what they say.

    • Marianne Ward :

      Paula S and Kathie M,
      I’m with you all the way, that people with money should not have greater access to participating in the democratic process.

      But, if we are going to label it bullying, doesn’t that then equate money with speech?

      Just because there is no physical address of Vermonters First to protest at does not justify harrassing Ms. Broughton at her home. As already suggested there are plenty of public spaces to protest at and still target Ms. Broughton’s abuse of financial influence.

      • Paula Schramm :

        Marianne, thanks for your thoughtfulness on this issue. It’s a valid debate.

        I don’t view it as “harassment” to quietly and respectfully stand in a public space outside someone’s home and ” petition for grievances”….it’s legal and a right.

        One person only went to the door to deliver a letter, and from the look of it, the rest of the group was not anywhere near where they could invade anyone’s sanctity.

        If I’d been in this situation and had the courage of my convictions, I would have come out & engaged the group. After all the press was there, and it would have been a good opportunity to get some free coverage of my point of view…ie. how important it was to me to fight against single payer health care, and why we needed “balance”. But this obviously is a personal decision, and not all of us like discussion.

  15. Eric Bradford :

    People with “single payer now” signs should be going to Peter Shumlin’s house. He’s the one that just pushed the start of the single payer discussion back from 2013 to 2015.

    • Paula Schramm :

      Eric Bradford, this is a valid point for you to raise, and gives me an opportunity to say that most Vermonters who support the health care reform look at this as a positive move.
      Here’s the reason : there was hope early on that because the Affordable Care Act was geared to encourage the freedom for states to tailor their own health care innovations, (as long as the care offered was the same or better than in the ACA ), that Vermont could get an early waiver to move in the direction it has set out with Act 48. But the reality has been that with Republican gridlock and opposition to ACA, Congress isn’t even thinking about early waivers. Given that we can’t shift over to our health care plan until 2017, why not take the extra time available to carefully consider this very complex endeavor , and make sure this reform works the best it can ?
      One of the critics’ loudest complaints was that we were “rushing” too fast into this new system, so hopefully this is reassuring to them also.

      • Eric Bradford :

        Didn’t Spaulding just say they were on track for their January 2013 deadline just a few days ago? I wonder what changed. It sure as heck wasn’t the chances of getting a waiver, those are no more or less bleak today than they were six months ago. On track for 1/13 means you’re almost done, not “we’re going to take another two and a half years to mull it over.”

        The notion that it will take four and a half years since Hsiao’s report (and hilarious payroll tax proposal) to get a FIRST DRAFT of the funding mechanism out the door should make supporters of the concept of single payer in Vermont irate. Do you really think they suddenly decided that adding more than two years to their deadline was going to result in a dramatically better funding story?

        Getting a draft out, or at least showing some options that prove the feasibility of this “plan,” would get the discussion started and go a long way toward garnering public support if that’s in the cards. If they can’t present a feasible plan – and a LOT of people don’t believe that they can – then we can just hit the brakes now and save a ton of money.

        • Paula Schramm :

          I don’t know any more than you seem to , Eric, but my impression is that there will be a presentation, but not a final vote on the funding mechanism by the legislature in this coming session. That would indeed be an opportunity to get the discussion started.
          Hopefully someone who knows will comment, or one of us will check with the GMC Board , etc. and get the straight scoop.

  16. walter carpenter :

    “Those who support a free market approach to addressing social ills cannot even come close to matching these resources.”

    Mr. Maynard, this is grossly incorrect. The advocates of a free-market approach to what you call “addressing social ills” (how the free-market, i.e. corporate, approach does that is another question in of itself, since it never has before) have legions of lobbyists representing their interests. A simple search on the legislative web site will reveal how many of them there are. Luckily, Vermont requires all lobbyists to be registered with the state. Companies like Blue Cross Blue shield and IBM, for example, have their own government operations arms; the chamber of commerce and the NfIB are well represented by their own lobbyists. If a company, especially an outside interest, does not want to employ their own lobbyist they can employ a lobbying firm to work on their behalf. It is the other way around from what you said. It is health care and other social advocates who are outnumbered.

    “But I don’t have money to compete with this slick propaganda going out to everyone in town.”

    Paula it is happening all over the state. Here are a couple quotes from a larger commentary by Kendall Wild, retired editor of the Rutland Herald, in the October 11 edition of the Rutland Herald, about Vermont First, which Ms. (or Mrs.) Broughton funds:

    “Meanwhile, the Vermonters First letter contained an application for an absentee ballot. It had my name and address typed in and a check mark in the box specifying the November General Election. There was an envelope with the name and address of City Clerk …typed in, and I was asked to fill out the absentee application and use the envelope to mail it in.

    A few days after the letter arrived I got a telephone call with a recorded voice asking me to vote for Cupoli [the GOP candidate in his district] for the House….I had marked the end of this essay when the mail delivered a flier from Vermonters First with a St. Albans P.O. box return address but a Connecticut postmark. The flier contained two absentee ballot applications and a line urging a vote for the Republican House candidate from my district, mentioning him by name. This leads to a question: Given the sophistication of this concentrated and complicated effort, where is the money coming from?”

    Another letter “Let’s Get it Right,” from today’s times-argus, complained about trying to contact this Vt. first group after the author got his packet from Vt. first: “I tried to go to this organization’s web site to give them a piece of what little mind I have left, but the link they give is not a valid one, a harbinger of their well oiled organizational capacity and accuracy, no doubt.”

    I would bet that Ms or Mrs. Broughton is probably not the only contributor this “well-oiled” organization. When the protestors went to Mrs. Broughton’s door to talk to her they were not denying her right of free speech (as talking is much different than denying or suppressing), but they were bringing a small dose of her own medicine to her in a peaceful way. As others have suggested if this group had a valid office or space, they would have gone there.

  17. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision (i.e. SuperPACs), is based on the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, specifically the right to “Freedom of Speech. The Supreme Court has interpreted this as “Freedom of $peech”. How much $peech is in your wallet?

    However, the Constitution does not provide an explicit “Right to an Audience”. So we have the right to press the Mute button on our TV remote controls when negative Super PAC ads appear (or change the channel, or go to the kitchen for snacks and beverage).

    Debates are great and welcomed (but the candidates for Governor have limited the number and location of debates). Political ads that are informative and positive are also welcome. But these Super PAC donors are wasting their money with negative ads, with their ominous music soundtracks … if we don’t give them an audience…

    Can’t wait for Congress (Constitutional Amendment) or a lawsuit, put your finger on the Mute …

    … for us “slackers” who are not inclined to track down Super PAC donors at their home, a Mute button is highly effective.

    Of course, the TV remote Mute button doesn’t work for Robo-calls.

  18. Josh Schlossberg :

    What is an “activist?” You mean a “citizen?”

  19. Paula Schramm :

    ” And you folks never factor in money when it comes to the media who are overwhelmingly liberal and are mouthpieces for the Democrats and Progressives! Last time I checked, media companies are corporations with lots of money!”

    Patricia Crocker – it’s a challenge to answer this with a straight face. “Liberal media” is sort of a sick joke. I would call it “Centrist media”. But your view is so restricted to a far right-wing perspective that you haven’t noticed that ” left-wing” views just aren’t covered by the mainstream media. And if you don’t see them on your favorite TV channels, radio shows or newspapers, they “don’t exist”. Just like global warming…..

    More importantly, the media corporations aren’t the ones sending me mailings( at least I don’t think so, I don’t know for sure !) telling me to vote for a certain state representative if I don’t want jobs and democracy to be killed in my town.

  20. Eileene Peterson :

    It seems to me that all the haranguing about Ms Broughton spending her own money to support a cause that she obviously believes in, is a diversion tactic for the real issue . . . the inability of those in favor of a single payer system in Vermont to be able to adequately change the doubts of those who still have some Vermont common sense.

    The single payer people claim the adds run by Vermont First use scare tactics to influence Vermonters. If this is the case, prove your point. Provide the proof that shows the information put out by Vermont First is wrong. Since I have seen no proof that contradicts Vermont First’s information and the information provided at various health care information meetings, I must assume there is none.

    Sadly, Vermont has become a battle ground state for outsiders with an agenda, purchasing a single payer system in a small state, where it can be tweeked and studied. Unfortunatly, the average Vermonter has not been consulted on what they want for their health care system. Big money from out of state, once again, has come into Vermont to steam roll over Vermonters.It is their attempt to buy influence and get their way. Ms. Broughton is a Vermonter. She lives in our state and payes taxes here, unlike those from SEIU and the riders of the Purple Bus. She is a Vermonter and has a right to have a say, without outside intimidation.

    • Paula Schramm :

      Eileen Peterson, you aren’t reading very carefully – Ms Broughton is funding a super PAC that has sent multiple mailings supporting not a particular “cause” but candidates in all races all over the state. The mailings and ads use misinformation on a number of things and the kind of scary language best described as propaganda. But all candidates being supported in this way, while having the advantage of lots of mailings with their name on it, have complete deniability because super PACS aren’t supposed to be co-ordinated with anyone’s campaign. They have a big money advantage because of all the ads, robo-calls, mailings & absentee ballot applications that they or their party hasn’t had to pay for. Other people running for state rep. etc. don’t generally have lots of money to spend like this to reach everyone ! They have one flyer printed up, and go door-to-door. Don’t you live here, don’t you understand this ? Maybe you don’t actually take part in Vermont democracy in action…. THIS ONE FUNDER OF A SUPER PAC HAS SPENT MORE IN MY COUNTY THAN MOST OF THE CANDIDATES COMBINED, with zero accountability. How is that fair, and how is that “democratic” ?

      It’s silly of you to pretend that “outsiders ” are forcing health care reform on Vermonters. People in this state have been working hard for many years to have universal , affordable health care, preferably single payer, and that’s one of the reasons they elected Gov. Shumlin. Vermont Leads is run by and made up of Vermonters, as are the many groups in this state, including doctors, nurses, home care-givers, teachers, students, business people, etc. etc., who support health care reform.

      Here, since you asked for it are some of the words used in Vermonters First propaganda : “this program will cost a STAGGERING $5 billion” Now doesn’t that sound terrifying ? ( fact check: this is WHAT WE ALREADY PAY FOR HEALTH CARE IN THIS STATE; the reform is taking what we spend for health care, reducing administrative costs, and making care accessible to everyone, and holding down the $1 million/day increase we face that’s going to bankrupt this state if we do nothing).
      Here’s more delightful words : “job-killing, anti-freedom, devastating, government take-over, bureaucratic strangers ( no, they’re not talking about for-profit insurance bureaucrats, though that would make more sense), aren’t listening to needs, advance their agenda without regard,more anti-freedom,job-killing, pushing new taxes, expanding Vermont sales tax ( fact check: just not true i.e.. factually challenged , i.e. somebody made this up, I think it was “Notme Justasuperpac”.)

  21. walter carpenter :

    “If this is the case, prove your point. Provide the proof that shows the information put out by Vermont First is wrong. Since I have seen no proof that contradicts Vermont First’s information and the information provided at various health care information meetings, I must assume there is none.”

    The proof is all around you. It is in the number of people that die each year in the usa for lack of access to health care because of lack of access to affordable insurance or any insurance at all.

    The proof is in the number of bankruptcies in America due to medical expenses:

    The proof is in the number of Americans who lack health insurance. In 2010 the number was 50.7 million Americans. Some 47,000 of them are Vermonters:

    Some 47,000 of them are Vermonters:

    The proof is that in nations with single-payer health systems, whatever the type, statistics like these are unknown because they do not exist.

    • Eric Bradford :

      You do your cause no good by responding to a request to “provide the proof that shows the information put out by Vermont First is wrong” with links to stories about how the current system is bad. VF makes very specific points regarding VT’s experiment, none of which you’ve addressed.

      “The proof is that in nations with single-payer health systems, whatever the type, statistics like these are unknown because they do not exist.”

      That many supporters of this vague notion of single payer in Vermont don’t seem to understand the difference between nationwide single payer and an attempt to implement the same system in a small state – one that is VERY easy to move in and out of – is both astonishing and extremely troubling.

  22. The above comments have been interesting. But it seems to me that Ms. Broughton wants to be a player on the big scene, and she’s being treated (civilly) as a player on the big scene.

    I don’t have the money Broughton has, so when I’ve gone out to make public statements I’m out there in person for folks to interact with. I don’t think Broughton or anybody else who wants to purchase their way into the big public discussions should be or is immune to that need for face to face interactions.

    If Broughton won’t make herself available somewhere away from her home it seems perfectly reasonable to me that folks approach her at her home.

  23. Eileene Peterson :

    Ms Schramm, You are not reading carefully. Much of the article was about the protesters and the healthcare issue. Additionally, many of the posts from people regarding this article are about Ms Broughton spending her money on a superpac that promotes her ideas and beliefs as they pertain to Vermont. I do not believe that just because you have money, you loose your right to have an opinion and promote your opinion. There are few rich people here in Vermont (we are loosing more with each stupid law passed), and many more people of moderate means. Why do you need to brinmg in Big Money from out of state? Is it because the majority of Vermonters of moderate means do not want single payer and will not donate $1 to help fund the promotion of it? Could it be that the majority of people in this state see single payer as not the best choice for themselves or their family, especially since it removes all other choices. Most Vermonters do not have the wool pulled over their eyes. They see clearly what a boondoggle single payer will be. I, for one, am all for getting the out of state money out of Vermont politics and policies. Stop trying to stifle the voices of Vermonters who do not agree with you.

    • Kelly Cummings :

      Eileene Peterson, as well as others here. You really need to learn the difference between Opinion and Propaganda. If Vermonters First and Lenore Broughton, would come out and say their opinion you might have an argument here….at least about showing up at her house. You know for instance, “We believe health care should be a commodity and bought and sold on the Free-Market.” Or maybe somehting like this, “We believe insurance companies should be allowed to charge whatever they want and set whatever parameters they want, even if it means some will be left behind and some will go without.” See, then you would have an arguement and that would certainly be their opinion. But this junk they are putting out is bottom-line……scary propaganda!

      I chanllenge you to take a look at it again. Because if you are being honest with yourself this is what kind of language Lenore Broughton and Vermonters First are using and it is nowhere close to an opinion:

      Let’s line up their “language” and give it a read.

      Government Control
      Without Regard
      Devastating Impact
      Super Majority
      Has A Plan
      Government Take-Over Of Your Healthcare
      That’s Right
      Bureaucratic Strangers
      How You Will Receive It
      $5 BILLION
      Largest Tax Increase in Vermont History
      NO ONE Will Tell Us How This Will Be Paid For Until After The Election
      Job Killing
      Hit Working Vermonters Hardest
      Job Killing

      It is our duty as citizens to stand up against propaganda. Oh boy does history tell us this is true!

      As far as outside money. You don’t honestly think that insurance companies aren’t smack dab in the middle of this do you? They like to work through little front groups of their own. Maybe groups like Vermonters First and Vermonters For Health Care Freedom?. It’s not a far stretch to see that now is it?!

      Again, Opinion vs. Propaganda!!! Two completely different things!

    • Paula Schramm :

      Eileene Peterson… you say ” I do not believe that just because you have money, you loose your right to have an opinion and promote your opinion.”
      Who in the world is saying that you loose your right to have an opinion and promote them because you have money ?? ! Give me a break !

      NO ONE is saying that ! But you have to try to think about what a superPAC can do that an individual can’t do. Someone can give quite a bit of money directly to as many candidates as they want to support , and can promote issues as much as they want. Do like Vermont Leads: have forums, print information papers, put out TV ads about the issue you care about.

      Ms. Broughton is doing this…. but ALSO her 5014c can spend unlimited money on behalf of any candidate it wants to , as long as it doesn’t “co-ordinate” directly with the campaign of the candidate. It is sending mailings with the names of every candidate in the state from one of the parties. Three mailings per candidate, saying , more or less,”vote for so-and-so, or loose your freedom and have your job killed”. Now usually that’s the job of the Party, and they have to be accountable for what they say on the mailings. But the party doesn’t have to speak for any propaganda etc. that a superPAC sends. Convenient.

      Vermont Leads is not doing this….how would you feel if they were ? And you speak of “out of state money”…..but we really don’t know where all the money in Vermonters First is coming from. It seems to have spent more already that what Ms. Broughton is on record giving, so far. We just don’t know….and they don’t have to tell us.

      This means the ones with the most money have the loudest microphone & the most “speech”by far, all of a sudden. This is now legal. Does it seem OK to run a democracy this way ?
      I work hard for the candidates I want to get elected in my town. But no one in any of these contests has a whole lot of money, from any party, in my town. That’s kind of the way it usually has been. We do fund-raisers to buy signs & flyers & go door-to-door. That’s how it used to be, but now it can change.
      This is the new reality to mull over. Thanks for any mulling you can do on this topic.

  24. James Gill :

    One person’s ‘Opinion’ is another person’s ‘Propaganda’. Just how do we tell them apart?

    I guess we just employee the ‘Information Police’, like Ms. Cumming.

    I guess I am just so stupid and will be unduly influenced, such that I will need Ms. Cummings to determine what information I should hear, because she knows the difference.

  25. Kelly Cummings :

    James Gill. What an absolute cop-out. Let me help you out a bit. Here are the definitions for you.

    According to Webster’s (unless you have a problem with Webster’s Dictionary…this ought to suffice)

    Opinion: 1. A belief based on grounds insufficient to produce certainty. 2. A personal attitude or appraisal.

    Propaganda: 1.Information or ideas methodically spread to promote or injure a cause, nation, etc. 2. The deliberate spreading of such information or ideas.

    “I guess I am just so stupid and will be unduly influenced, such that I will need Ms. Cummings to determine what information I should hear, because she knows the difference.”

    Don’t be so hard on yourself James. All you have to do, and anybody can do it, is be curious, read, and seek out factual information. I wonder….do you also not believe in science? Probably no global warming either huh?

    Nice try, I guess. Again…..stuff like this is PROPAGANDA!

    So I will say it again James.

    “Let’s line up their “language” and give it a read.

    Government Control
    Without Regard
    Devastating Impact
    Super Majority
    Has A Plan
    Government Take-Over Of Your Healthcare
    That’s Right
    Bureaucratic Strangers
    How You Will Receive It
    $5 BILLION
    Largest Tax Increase in Vermont History
    NO ONE Will Tell Us How This Will Be Paid For Until After The Election
    Job Killing
    Hit Working Vermonters Hardest
    Job Killing

    It is our duty as citizens to stand up against propaganda. Oh boy does history tell us this is true!”

    This is straight out of the Vermnoters First letter that was delivered to households all over Vermont. Their words. Not mine. See any facts in their words? See anything informational in there that might intelligently inform anybody. You don’t…even if you want to say you do….it’s not there! It’s all about fear and the only comeback you have is to insult me because you know you can’t defend those words. Those kinds of insults are small and meaningless really.

    Americans have fought and died in foreign wars against dictators who came to power because of propaganda. I wouldn’t be so quick to judge the use of propaganda as something to take lightly and dismiss so easily. But maybe you would. Maybe you do. Not me.

    • Eric Bradford :

      “Propaganda: 1.Information or ideas methodically spread to promote or injure a cause, nation, etc.”

      The “etc.” that you left out is “a person.” Every ad on TV and in print is propaganda by the literal definition of the word.

      “It is our duty as citizens to stand up against propaganda.”

      Peter Shumlin’s campaign is running ads promoting his candidacy, are you going to stand up to them?

      I would love to see a meaningful discussion on this topic, triggered by the VF ads. But if no one is going to even attempt to point out where they’re wrong, I’m not sure how that’s going to happen.

      • Paula Schramm :

        Eric – I gave you a good example back in my post to Eileen Peterson. How about a discussion about that example, at least ?

        “Vermonters First propaganda : “this program will cost a STAGGERING $5 billion” Now doesn’t that sound terrifying ? ( fact check: this is WHAT WE ALREADY PAY FOR HEALTH CARE IN THIS STATE; the reform is taking the amount we now spend for health care, reducing administrative costs, and making care accessible to everyone, and holding down the $1 million/day increase we face that’s going to bankrupt this state if we do nothing).”

        Please notice what makes this “propaganda” on the part of the mailing : the scary word “staggering” is used . It IS a staggering amount depending what aspect you’re discussing, but if you are talking about the health care reform program, and pointing out that it doesn’t increase what we’re already spending and does more with it, in a way that will keep down the current rate of increase, then it gives you a whole different picture.
        It is also propaganda because it is definitely is trying to mislead the reader into thinking this is an INCREASE of $5 billion. So it’s being really sneaky : using a statement that is basically true, but making it imply something very different, and very negative.

        I don’t want to get into a debate right here on comparing health care plans, etc. because those debates have taken place many, many times over the past months, with a lot of good points made on all sides & a lot of good information.
        The point of the comments here need to be about how you feel about the phenomenon of having super PACs here in Vermont…is their impact unfair to average Vermonters trying to help their local candidates get elected to the legislature, ….. OR are they just jim-dandy and truly democratic… do you feel about “big players” having to speak up and be public about their opinions…..are you incensed about people legally going to the public space outside someone’s home to try to have a dialog…..or do you feel that anyone with a lot of money should be able to spend it to sway elections in most anyway they want to, with no accountability ( as the Supreme Court has ruled). Do you think there should be ANY campaign finance rules, or limitations ?

        COME ON guys & gals, let’s talk about these issues, which is what this story is all about !!! What makes a real democracy. Does money really rule ? Should it ?

        • Eric Bradford :

          So propaganda is untrue, misleading, or just something that someone says to persuade? You two really need to get your stories straight on this.

          Beyond that, you’re trying to take this down a completely different road and I’m not following you.

          • Paula Schramm :

            Eric – No, it’s not a “different road” that I’m trying to take you down…’s the reality we are facing and affected by with the Supreme Court ruling that makes what Vermonters First is doing perfectly legal.

            Here’s today’s news on how Ms. Broughton has spent over half a million dollars on distorting the races in my county, and across Vermont. Keep in mind she is urging you to vote for specific people at every level :

            “As of Monday, Broughton has given a grand total of $683,961 to Vermonters First since the PAC was launched this summer. Of that total, $534,621 has been spent on advertising ($200,000), robotic calls to prospective voters ($108,291) and mailings ($226,330). On Oct. 11, Broughton spent $17,500 on a public opinion poll.”

            This is a way for an individual to have a huge impact on elections in an unaccountable way. Vermonters First is one local example of a national transformation in our electoral politics that has taken place in just these last 2 years.

            The amount of money needed to run campaigns has suddenly ballooned to levels never imagined before. Gov. Scott Walker spent $ 30 MILLION on his recall match, while his opponent had 1/4 of that. Money RULES now more than ever. When that money can be used to say almost anything, then yes, you do need to start having a discussion about what propaganda is, what kind of “democracy” you want, and so on. Unless you are happy with government by oligarchy.

            Since this seems to be legal, if not necessarily fair or sane, it makes the petitioning outside Ms. Broughton’s house appear appropriate to me. If she is willing to affect our elections this much, she needs to be willing to engage all of us who are affected.

          • Lance Hagen :

            I am astonished in reading the posts from Ms. Schramm. She wants it both ways. She wants to stop Ms. Broughton from spending her money to influence public policy, but yet she has no problem with SEIU or Ms. McClure spending their money to influence public policy.

            Who in their right mind would want to have a talk about this issue with Ms. Schramm, since all she wants to do is ‘muffle’ those who don’t match her political position.

    • James Gill :

      Ms. Cummings, since you brought it up, was Al Gore’s movie (An Inconvenient Truth) ‘fact’, ‘opinion’ or ‘propaganda’?

      Since you can tell the difference.

      • Kelly Cummings :

        You tell me James. This should be interesting. What do you think it was?

        • James Gill :

          I can’t tell, since I lack the expertise that you have

          • Paula Schramm :

            James, you are just being coy. I’m guessing you have strong feelings & opinions about Al Gore’s movie, since you brought it up. If you serious about having a dialog, then HAVE one , for goodness sake !

          • Kelly Cummings :

            James….this strange conversation, if you can even call it that…with you….is over. Have a nice day.

          • James Gill :

            Ms. Schramm and Ms. Cummings, you seem to have missed the point.

            Both ‘Vermonters First’ and Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ used embellishments to present their positions. They have the right to do this and we also have a right to listen or not listen. The real danger is to have someone claim they know what is ‘Opinion’ and what is ‘Propaganda’ and make it a duty for citizens to stand up against it (I picture a motley crowd with torches and pitch folks matching on the castle). This is what was implied in Ms. Cummings posting at 10:25am

            Thank God for our right of ‘freedom of speech’ …… which includes the ‘freedom to listen’ (even if it is a lot of BS).

          • Paula Schramm :

            James Gill – In response to your post beginning :

            “Ms. Schramm and Ms. Cummings, you seem to have missed the point”,

            I would appreciate it if you would respond to me separately about “propaganda”, since I directly tried to answer your earlier post question with the concrete example of it that you were asking for. I also invited discussion of that example.

            It’s not enough to say that it’s a “real danger” to claim to recognize some propaganda & urge people to stand against it. You’re the one seeing mobs with pitchforks….. I see a whole lot of other scenarios from our U.S. history that have been a vital part of our gaining many of the things in our Bill of Rights.

            I enthusiastically agree with being thankful for our right of freedom of speech !
            I’m wondering about the new idea that “money is speech”, and what effect ultimately that may have on our freedom of actual speech. Will we have increasing difficulty in being able to HEAR all that people are trying to say, if money completely rules the airwaves ?

  26. Matthew Ennis :

    I suggest people read an article from the New Yorker (9/24/12) entitled “The Lie Factory”, which proves how the idea of universal health care in America has been demonized since the 1930s
    The super-pac Vermonters First is a microcosm of what is happening across the nation, in which the Republican party, which has gone so far out of the mainstream, is intent on buying the election and brainwashing people.

  27. David O'Brien :

    God help us.

  28. Liz Schlegel :

    To all the folks who think VT and the Feds are putting you at risk by trying to ensure that everyone has health care – please, read this. Dr. Gawande is as thoughtful a commentator on the state of health care in America as you will find anywhere.

  29. Eileene Peterson :

    Ms Schramm, Ms Cummings, Ms Schlegel et al, most Vermonters are inteligent adults who do not need you, SEIU/Vermont Leads or any other entity to filter information about what is in our best interest regarding an apropriate health care system here in Vermont. As an adult, I can use logic, do research and then deduce an out come once I have done both.

    I find it offensive that you seem to think the average Vermonter is incapable of doing these things and there for needs to have Vermont Leads, with the help of the Purple Bus and big money from out of state entities like SEIU, decide what information is “fit” for Vermonters to hear. We can make up our own minds with out the bully tactics of Vermont Leads and the Purple Bus who apeared to attempt to silence, through what might be considered intimidation, a Vermonter who is exercising her first amendment right to free speech. This might not have been your intent, but fact that Vermont Leads had a protest in front of a private residence in Burlington a neighborhood can have that effect. Vermonters should not treat each other that way and I respectfully request that any of the out of staters just BUT OUT! Out of staters who want to create a utopia should go home and work to improve their own state and leave us to work on ours.

    Once again, I will remind you that I can decide by research and deduction if a single payer plan or any other government managed health plan is best for me and my family. I can also decide if the information put out by Vermont Leads, Vermont First, The Burlington Free Press, WCAX or any other entity, is telling the truth – fudging a little – or spinning the “facts” like a top. I do not need you to act as the “truth police.”

  30. walter carpenter :

    “inteligent adults who do not need you, SEIU/Vermont Leads or any other entity to filter information about what is in our best interest regarding an apropriate health care system here in Vermont.”

    Does the Vermont First super pac fall under this category of an entity filtering information?

  31. Liz Schlegel :

    Eileene: I’m confused. Are you attacking me for commenting? I don’t recall casting aspersions on your intelligence – I pointed you toward an excellent article that might inform your deductions about health care.

  32. Eileene Peterson :

    Mr Carpenter, Vermont First Superpac is not picketing infront of private citizens house. I have no problem with Vermont Leads having an opinion ant puttinf forth their view. I do, however have a problem with attempting to quash the opposite view point through intimidation. I also have a problem when the viewpoint and the intimidation are paid for by out of state money. I believe we all have a right to our opinion and a right to express it. We have a responsibility to voice our opinions without attempting to silence other view points.

    Ms Schlegel, I cast no aspersions on the intelligence of anyone who has posted here. My point is that Vermonters, as a whole, are an intelligent group of people who do not need others to filter the information they will be allowed to hear. Thank you for the posting of the link. I have not had time to look at it yet, but I will. If you were not part of the group that protested out side Ms Broughton’s house or Vermont Leads, I am sorry to lump you in with that group. I feel that more discussion, not less is what is needed regarding the health system.

    • Paula Schramm :

      Eileene Peterson – I also respect everyone’s intelligence and haven’t called anyone incapable of getting informed. I don’t know where you get that from.

      When our new laws allow anyone to use any amount of money to do most anything to support individual candidate’s campaigns, as long as it isn’t “co-ordinated with their campaign”, we have a brand new day in campaign finance realities. We can see that insanity at that national level, if we’re paying attention, where the amount of money being spent on all races this year has far surpassed anything from before the Surpreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling.

      Today’s news shows that M. Broughton has so far spent over $600,000 in Vermont, and this is going to the level of directly telling you to vote for candidates by name in every district at every level in my county. I don’t know how I can really compete with that as an ordinary citizen, except by calling it out, and trying to get a discussion going about it.

      But it seems to me that not one of those defending Ms. Broughton’s right to spend her money as she pleases, seems interested in defending the idea of what kind of democracy they want. Will someone just speak up and say ” YES ! I believe that those with the most money should have the loudest voices ! Money SHOULD rule.” Because that’s what it SEEMS like you’re implying, and I’d like to know for sure. No one wants to have that discussion.

    • walter carpenter :

      “I do, however have a problem with attempting to quash the opposite view point through intimidation. I also have a problem when the viewpoint and the intimidation are paid for by out of state money.”

      This is why I asked the question that I did. You say you have a problem with out-of-state money coming in to intimidate people here. Ok, I am cool with that. Yet, you seem have no problem with in-state money doing the same thing, which is what this Vt. Group is doing — the mailings threatening that the earth will fall off its axis if we do not vote for the candidates that it wants us to vote for and so on — which is what this grpup is doing. And who knows how much money is coming in from outside to help out this inside money. It is called trting to buy an election.

  33. Eric Bradford :

    @Paula Schramm
    “When that money can be used to say almost anything, then yes, you do need to start having a discussion about what propaganda is”

    Feel free to start any time. Regardless of how you define propaganda, both sides are “guilty” of spreading it.

    • Paula Schramm :

      Eric- How about to responding to the one example I tried to outline for you ? That was an attempt at a discussion, which you seemed to be interested in having.
      I’m not particularly speaking of “sides” myself. There are certainly more than 2 sides, no ?

      Sorry if I misunderstood, and that you were just making a rhetorical statement. I’m a bit confused by what you’e saying.

      • Eric Bradford :

        What, the use of the word “staggering”? So the definition of propaganda is any phrase that uses an adjective?

        Just define propaganda and I’ll gladly give you one or more examples meeting the definition that I’ve heard coming from pro-“single payer in Vermont” voices. In fact, I’ll bet I can pull at least one from this comment thread.

        • Paula Schramm :

          I can see you’re not interested in a discussion ! Sorry, my mistake !

          I was hoping you could respond to the discussion I gave about the use of the word staggering, how what it implies depends on the context given, and also the intentional attempt, not to present an opinion, but to actually mislead about the ” program” costing additional money , and so on. You could have tried reading what I wrote.

          In this case the mailer is using propaganda instead of offering an opinion because the framing of the information is intended to mislead.

          I’m trying to identify something that is pretty obviously tailored to mislead people about facts and to get them to go vote for the people named in the mailing. There are no comparable mailings from Vermont Leads or other groups who lobby for health care reform, that are telling you the names of all the local people to vote for, and providing these candidates with valuable name recognition, pre-addressed envelopes to the local town clerk, etc. etc. etc…….etc. Since this sort of actual DISCUSSION doesn’t interest you……well, never mind.

          • Eric Bradford :

            That you object to the word “staggering” in this context does not make a statement propaganda. The tax IS staggering. It will hit many individuals and businesses with no offsets whatsoever. It will transfer responsibility for this staggering amount of money to a group of people who will have to invent a framework in which it will be deployed, with no precedent (ie. individual US state single payer) as a blueprint. I’d say “staggering” is a vast understatement in this case. Has a US state ever more than doubled its budget in one fell swoop for any reason? Yeah, I’d call that staggering.

            Now I’ll give you an example of what I consider propaganda. You claim that the word “staggering” is invalid because “it doesn’t increase what we’re already spending and does more with it, in a way that will keep down the current rate of increase”. You have absolutely no way to know whether either of those statements are true. Those are goals of this endeavor, but no one has offered any specifics on how they are to be achieved. We know that single payer will require a staggering tax increase. We have absolutely no idea whether it will achieve its stated goals. So when you repeatedly state otherwise in an attempt to convince people that single payer opponents should just shut up and sit down, I’d call that propaganda.

  34. Eileene Peterson :

    Ms Schramm, I suggest you start a movement. This seems to be what is being attempted with Vermont Leads. If enough Vermonters have the same opinion as you and Vermont Leads, they will back you and you will not need out of state money. If there are not enough Vermonters with your opinion, out of state money should not be allowed to ram through something that they do not want. Ms Broughton is only one person. Yes she may have money but if the majority of Vermonters are for single payer, they have more power than one wealthy person on November 6. If you do not think a movement of average citizens can’t make changes I suggest you look into the 2010 elections where, in some other states, incumbents were unseated by unknowns because of a movement known as the TEA Party. They took the stand that their citizens were Taxed Enough Already and decided to try and get more fiscally conservative representatives to replace some of their less conservative ones. They were not successful every where but they they did make a difference in some elections.

    I am now done with this post. I hope Vermont Leads and those who thought out of state money was just fine when trying to push single payer here in Vermont see that the “ends do not justify the means.” All Vermonters have the right to have a say, even the wealthy ones. All Vermonters also have only one vote each on November 6, even the wealthy ones. Civil discourse without intimidation is the Vermont way.

    • Paula Schramm :

      Eileene Peterson – you’ve perhaps been out of the state for the last 5 years or so ?
      There IS a movement of the sort you’re talking about already, I don’t need to start one. It’s made up of a majority of Vermonters who would like to see the kind of health care reform that they elected Gov. Shumlin and many others to the legislature to carry out. The health care bill that was passed commits the legislature to come up with a universal, affordable, quality system that is transparent and has input from all of us. That’s a tall order and there’s a lot of hard work going on to make this commitment a reality. If we aren’t successful at this task, we face a current system that leaves people out, and that is increasing at a rate that will bankrupt the state in a few years.
      I don’t mind healthy debate, but anyone trying hard to subvert this effort better be coming up with a better system that will give everyone access to affordable care, but not bankrupt us. And no one has done that.

      FYI Tea Party candidates were/are funded big time by “outside corporate funders” ( Koch Bros., Sheldon Adelson, etc.)…..don’t kid yourself. That’s why so many were called “astro-turf” candidates.

  35. Paula Schramm :

    Eric Bradford – Thanks, you obviously did go back now & read what I wrote about an example of propaganda. But you didn’t get it right : “You claim that the word “staggering” is invalid because “it doesn’t increase what we’re already spending and does more with it, in a way that will keep down the current rate of increase”
    Nope, not what I said. Use of “staggering” was just to scare & stir people up. As staggering as what we pay for health care in Vermont is, that is the amount that we ARE paying now, and not an additional amount the “new program” is going to cost us. The wording of the mailing clearly wants us to think that this is some additional amount, i.e. an INCREASE of $5 billion.

    The clear intention to mislead constitutes propaganda to me.
    Thanks again for engaging in some discussion.

    • Eric Bradford :

      “you obviously did go back now & read what I wrote”

      Kind of wish you would return the favor. The quote I provided was your verbatim explanation of why the word “staggering” was misleading.



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