Super PAC money has penetrated the airwaves for the last six weeks and more recently, in the final push toward Nov. 6, Vermonters First, the conservative group that has spent more than $800,000 on Republican campaigns is reaching down into one of the cornerstones community life.
As Dickey Drysdale, the editor of the Herald of Randolph, put it: “Super-PAC money has reached your community weekly newspaper.”
Drysdale ran two ads from Vermonters First in the last two editions of his newspaper. The ads support former Rep. David Ainsworth, a Republican, in his bid to beat out Rep. Sarah Buxton, a Democrat.
Because of the rule against consulting with campaigns, Ainsworth wasn’t asked if he wanted support, nor did he have any input into what the ad actually says. In fact, it’s likely that the people running Vermonters First don’t know David Ainsworth from a hole in the ground—except that he lost to Buxton by just one vote two years ago and therefore might be a good bet to win this year.
The Herald of Randolph received $504 for the two ads.
Drysdale, who is known for his independent views and commitment to unbiased reporting, doesn’t have a dog in this political fight, but he has a strong opinion about super PACs.
As for The Herald, we’re glad anytime when we see politicians realize the value of weekly newspaper advertising. However, we deplore the entire super-PAC mechanism, which directs unrestricted gobs of money, from people who can afford it, into our precious political process.
And so, the Herald, which depends on advertising revenue, is donating the money to the Randolph Area Food Shelf.
Whether other media outlets will follow Drysdale’s lead is anyone’s guess.
Nonprofit news organizations like VTDigger and VPR cannot accept campaign advertising.