AG’s office investigating complaints against Annette Smith, anti-wind advocate

The state attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into criminal complaints against a prominent champion of Vermonters who are adversely affected by renewable development.

The attorney general’s office is investigating whether Annette Smith, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, has practiced law without a license — a charge with penalties left entirely to the court’s discretion.

Smith says the complaints that prompted the AG’s investigation are politically motivated.

Attorneys who have argued against Smith’s clients say she gives bad advice, unconstrained by the sanctions licensed attorneys would incur for similar behavior.

Smith says the AG’s investigation “is very intimidating.”

“I don’t know what to do. I think our work’s being shut down,” Smith said. “I believe this has the potential to shut down my organization of 16 years. It clearly falls under the definition of harassment.”

Residents who live near planned and existing renewable projects have claimed she’s their only advocate.

Smith said she represents people who too frequently have nowhere else to turn. Renewable energy developers hire talented attorneys against whom landowners near project sites have no other way of successfully representing themselves.

Many of these cases involve people who can’t afford a lawyer, and who didn’t want to become involved in legal proceedings to protect their interests, she said. Lawyers know it’s impossible to fight renewable energy developers, Smith said, and won’t take on affected landowners’ cases anyway.

“Anybody who does this with a lawyer has wasted tens of thousands of dollars,” she said. “The reason I’m doing this is so people have a voice without bankrupting themselves.”

The attorney general’s office would not offer comment on the case.

“There is a matter under investigation by the criminal division, and we can’t comment on it further, and we never comment on ongoing criminal investigation,” said John Treadwell, Chief of the Criminal Division at the AG’s office.

Practicing law without a license is a charge that has rarely been prosecuted in Vermont, Treadwell said. It carries potentially severe penalties. “It is punished as criminal contempt of the Vermont Supreme Court, and is potentially punishable by fine or imprisonment or both, in the court’s discretion,” Treadwell said.

“In the court’s discretion,” Treadwell said, means there are no maximum defined penalties.

Assistant Attorney General Zachary Chen named five cases in a letter notifying Smith of the investigation, and two attorneys were involved in both cases. Smith said one of them had previously accused her of practicing law without a license. Both have given Smith reason to believe they’ve sought to instigate an investigation against her, she said.

Joslyn Wilschek is one of the attorneys, and in a previous Public Service Board hearing she told hearing officers that Smith had been in that instance practicing law without a license.

Non-lawyers aid participants in legal and other proceedings all the time to good effect, Wilschek said, but Smith represents herself as having training that she actually lacks.

“She gives legal advice to landowners, and she drafts their filings to the Public Service Board, and I think it’s a real disservice, because she puts herself out there as having the knowledge of a lawyer, when she doesn’t,” Wilschek said.

Wilschek said she didn’t file a complaint against Smith with the AG’s office, but said she supports it and said that if asked, and if her clients consented, she’d testify Smith had done what she’s been accused of. Wilschek said her remarks reflect only her personal observation, and not her clients or their positions.

Based on what she’s seen, such charges have no basis in political motives, Wilschek said. “I disagree with people all the time — that’s what a lawyer does — but when someone does something this egregious, it’s not political, it’s protecting the public,” she said. “When you see someone putting themselves out there like a lawyer, it’s a real disservice to people who don’t understand the training a lawyer needs.”

People who Smith has assisted say they have no other effective advocate, and say they’re shut out of the hearing process for renewable projects by the excessive legality of the proceedings.

“What she does is she provides citizens — normal, everyday citizens in the state of Vermont — with a possibility of having any chance at participating in the Public Service Board process,” said Christine Lang.

Lang, with her husband and with Smith’s assistance, is attempting to persuade the Public Service Board to assess penalities on prospective wind developer Travis Belisle for constructing a meteorological tower without a permit. The met tower is a precursor to the wind turbine development project, and she says a permit filed with the board would have given the public advance notice.

State agencies and developers are well-represented by lawyers at Public Service Board hearings, while ordinary citizens are shut out of the process, Lang said.

“I think it’s a witch hunt to distract her from the work she’s trying to do to help citizens, because she’s the only one out there who’s helping citizens,” Lang said. “Does that make sense I should have to have an attorney to participate in what is supposed to be a public process?

“This is why this entire process is completely broken,” she said. “It is a developer-run process run by the developers and their lawyers, and they are getting everything they want, and they are going to destroy this state.”

Leslie Cadwell, another attorney who has represented wind developer David Blittersdorf, says Smith has led her clients to bad ends. Cadwell participated in a case against Smith that complaints with the AG’s office have highlighted as representative of Smith’s alleged illegal behavior.

“As a result of Annette’s participation in a case she was involved with before the Public Service Board, the town of Irasburg has violated open meetings law twice, and has admitted it,” Cadwell said.

Professional ethical standards lawyers abide by prohibit this kind of behavior, Cadwell said.

“If Annette wants to represent people in the Public Service Board process, or advise people about how to participate in the Public Service Board process, she ought to go to law school,” Cadwell said. “Or, in Vermont, she can actually do a four-year clerk program where she can learn how to be a lawyer and understand how to ethically represent her clients in courts.”

Vermont is one of few states that allows lawyers to work as clerks in lieu of law school as a means of studying to become an attorney, Cadwell said.

Cadwell said that she did not file complaints against Smith with the attorney general’s office.

Mike Polhamus

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154 Comments on "AG’s office investigating complaints against Annette Smith, anti-wind advocate"

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Melodie McLane
8 months 1 day ago

Annette has never represented herself as our attorney. We have never paid her for her “services” as an advocate. We draft most of our own filings and occasionally have used a law firm to draft some in the past when we felt that we needed legal advice. These are ridiculous accusations and isn’t it interesting that they come at a time when citizens are revolting en mass against bad siting of wind and solar.

Robert Rich
7 months 22 days ago

Stepping back a few yards for the broader view, one might observe this is the sort of thing that results from continuous one-party rule.

Peter Galbraith
8 months 1 day ago
Annette Smith is an advocate exercising her First Amendment rights of free speech and association. She has never represented herself as being a lawyer or as having a legal education. There is a real imbalance of power between the wealthy corporations promoting industrial wind and the small rural communities where they want to locate the turbines. Annette Smith is a person of integrity who has helped the weaker party in what would otherwise be a very uneven contest. This investigation will have a chilling effect on all citizen advocates. Regardless of how one feels about Annette Smith’s views on industrial… Read more »
Gary Viens
8 months 1 day ago
In my mind, this is another way for the wind turbine companies to get their way again, with less interference from the people who will be/ are most effected. It is time for our State government to listen to both sides of this issue not just listen to the ones who hold all of the money and power. Presently there are many bills on the wall of the House Natural Resources Committee which takes up these issues. Rep. Tony Kline as chairman of this committee will ever allow these bills to be taken up or make it out of his… Read more »
Melodie McLane
8 months 1 day ago
Here is one example of how Annette supports neighbors of wind projects: On Wed. January 20th we had a hearing in front of the Public Service Board. She went with me and before the hearing she sat at my side and we chatted about everything but the hearing details. We talked about the upcoming birth of my first grandchild and the fact that my husband could not attend the hearing because he wanted to save his vacation time to spend with his elderly father. Her presence was relaxing and supportive in every way but the legal sense. So were the… Read more »
8 months 1 day ago

I don’t see any claim that Smith presents herself as LEGAL representation, but I do see where she is being attacked for presenting herself as someone who is knowledgeable about the laws and processes.

I’m on a school board, and over the years I have often opened my VSA Title 16 book to use in support of an argument. Does that make me a miscreant lawyer wannabe? Rhetorical question – of course it doesn’t. It merely makes me someone who is interested in working from a factual basis.

This is an outright attack on a citizen’s right to participate in governance.

Randy Koch
8 months 1 day ago
Move over, Cotton Mather, Bill Sorrell is setting himself up as Vermont’s chief witch hunter. A few questions: First of all who brought this complaint if not the developer lawyers? Was it David Blittersdorf, Mr Industrial Turbine himself? Why are the accusers hiding in the shadows? And why is the AG participating in the conspiracy of silence? Second is this all the AG can figure out to do with the state’s limited resources? To help a Blittersdorf bring a vindictive SLAPP suit against a respected public advocate? What are Sorrell’s motives here? Third, aren’t we edging pretty close to absurdity?… Read more »
Randy Jorgensen
8 months 1 day ago

Mr. Blittersdorf is listed as a top individual donor for Mr. Sorell.

Click on Top Donors.

http://followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=6385050

bruce wilkie
8 months 1 day ago

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to which well known industrial wind /solar developer from Charlotte is behind this travesty? When you have the chair of the house energy committee and the chair of the PSB in your hip pocket, it is easy to destroy the opposition to the destruction of Vermont.
Very Trumplike tactics by our government.

Candy Moot
8 months 1 day ago
I don’t know who contacted the AG’s office, but I do know Dave Blittersdorf’s law firm, Dinse Knapp (where the Speaker of the House works … who knows if there’s a connection) filed papers against the Town of Morgan regarding Annette. I’m a resident of Morgan and we’ve had to pay a lawyer responding to them. So what I do know with total certainty is that one of Mr. Blittersdorf ‘s law firms ( he has more than one) has already gone done this road, with the same allegations as were made by the AG’s office. Hoping this backfires ….
Annette Smith
8 months 1 day ago

Here are those letters that apparently led up to this investigation. http://vce.org/DB_VCE_AS_CorrespondenceRequests.pdf

Willem Post
8 months 1 day ago
Annette, Keep up your good work. Do not worry. We will be voting those b….s out of office. You have enormous support among the people who have been fleeced, seen their real estate values drop, had adversely impacted their health and peace of mind, and those who are going to be fleeced, etc., by: – Powerful, in-state and out-of-state multi-millionaire interests, owning subsidized (by us) wind and solar systems, that produce expensive, variable, intermittent, not-all-that-clean, energy onto already-struggling households and businesses, and by – Various aiders and abetters, in and out of government, which now also includes the AG office.… Read more »
Karen Pease
8 months 1 day ago
The people of VT should be appalled at this waste of tax-payer money by a powerful, wealthy Special Interest. Once again, the Industry finds itself in a desperate situation and rather than letting the facts speak for themselves, rather than allowing citizens to stand up and effectively work to protect themselves and their environment, the Industry has fallen back on intimidation tactics. They (once again!) are squandering tax-payer money — this time in an effort to convince a state agency to do their dirty work. Vermonters are very lucky to have Annette/VCE as an advocate. It is regrettable that in… Read more »
David Kelley
8 months 1 day ago
I have practiced law in Vermont for over 30 years. My primary clients have been ski areas, but I have also worked with many families that could not afford an attorney. I have known Annette as an ally and an adversary. She is one of the most principled, ethical, idealistic, selfless, hard working human beings I have ever met. Vermont is lucky to have her. Without her help there are many people who would have been chewed up and spit out by people (read this to mean industrial wind developers) with more lawyers than principles. This behavior on the part… Read more »
Willem Post
8 months 1 day ago

Dave,
Well said. I agree 100%

Stephanie Moffett-Hynds
8 months 8 hours ago
I agree with David Kelley and all of the voices of support for the incomparable Annette Smith. What would we have done without her compassion, when there was nowhere else to turn? I am disgusted by this pathetic attempt to intimidate her. Shame on Leslie Cadwell and all the rest who would use this tactic to scare fellow Vermonters from seeking out others with whom they can try to make sense of the often horrendous predicaments they find themselves in, to educated themselves, and to engage in civil discourse to find solutions. It is a testament to Annette that they… Read more »
Bruce S. Post
8 months 1 day ago
I imagine this might be somewhat akin to SLAPP: Strategic Litigation Against Public Participation. We once had a developer/attorney threaten us and several of our neighbors with civil and criminal action if we walked across the road, a traditional right of way, to our neighbor’s house. As long as his development proposal was going well, he was all smiles; when our planning commission reversed its earlier approval on challenges from many of us, he turned on a few of us with his legal threats. Eventually, the municipal government approved his project, but I can tell you that, for a long… Read more »
Eddie Fisher
8 months 1 day ago
Mrs. Smith must consider this . This is Vermont , its a state where liberal ideologies rule politics , rule the economy , the courts AND the laws . Any talk otherwise is but rhetoric . No matter that anyone should be able to “stand the court ” licenced or not , Especially when the economic stimulus of our federal government and the subsidizing dollars of wind , solar power is so embedded in the psychy of liberal entitlements . as to so deeply effect our economy , our courts , and the direct health of these neighbors .
Tom Rood
8 months 1 day ago

Dear, Sweet Old Vermont….you’ve come a long way baby! And the hard working, salt-of-the-earth men and women who started it all are rolling over in their graves. Shame!

Candy Moot
8 months 1 day ago

There is no question that Annette is the only hope small towns have in protecting our natural resources against industrial wind and solar developers, in whose favor the deck is already stacked. In my professional life, I hired many, many consultants like Annette who were not lawyers …. who never ever faced this bizarre accusation, intimidation and harassment. This is a total outrage.

Bob Stannard
8 months 1 day ago

It might be a good idea to hear all the facts surrounding these serious charges. Yes, Ms. Smith is perceived as a champion by those she represents and she may very well be operating within the confines of the law. The complaint may be baseless and nothing more than a tactic, but until ALL of the facts come out no one really knows.

Teddy Hopkins
8 months 1 day ago

Its not very often I agree with you Bob but I do in your comment. Until all the facts are out one really doesn’t know what is happening.
If anyone is involved in any Vermont town business these type of public document requests come in from time to time. A lot of requests appear to die off but some could be the basis for a brewing problem be it in the field of employment, environmental and/or real estate etc.

8 months 1 day ago

After all these years of tirelessly defending the indefensible record of Peter Shumlin, again we find Bob on the wrong side of the issue.

Don Peterson
8 months 1 day ago

It’s a lesson in history industrial wind developers should reread: attempts by the Tsar to stifle dissent only makes it easier to stir up resistance next time. Bad strategy on their part.

It only proves that an open discussion of the pros and cons of Vermonts energy policy is the last thing anyone doing business in Vermont wants.

Meg Streeter
8 months 1 day ago

As if the opportunity to intervene in the industrial wind siting process weren’t unequal enough thanks to our current Governor and Legislature, now this? I hope this blatant attempt to silence Annette Smith’s free speech rights will alert more Vermonters to the ongoing problems with this part of the energy sector. I’ve met Annette and donated to her organization – her efforts are admirable and I doubt that any of the people she’s helped have confused her work with that of an attorney.

Tom Pelham
8 months 1 day ago
There is something very wrong here. There’s a term for this, it’s called a “slapp suit” defined as “a strategic lawsuit against public participation that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.” It’s a shame the AG’s office would embrace and nurture this ploy. From the article it appears that the suits with briefcases aren’t happy that Annette sits across the table from them helping average Vermont citizens burdened by industrial wind and solar projects participate in highly formal Pubic Service Board… Read more »
Ralph Colin
8 months 1 day ago
I have known Annette for many years. There are times when she may be abrasive and there are issues over which we may had our differences, but never for a moment would I question her ethics. Moreover, in numerous conversations we’ve had about renewable energy, I have never heard her oppose the concept of renewable energy resources per se, but she sure has questioned the methods used by developers who stampede and bulldoze the site approval process to the detriment of citizens who live in close proximity to the proposed (or actually developed) sites after the sponsors have destroyed the… Read more »
Wendy Wilton
8 months 1 day ago

Annette has been a tireless champion of the everyday Vermonter in this fight against the renewable industrial millionaire cronyism. This move by the AG is a statement on why Sorrell needs to go–he has forgotten about the constitution and the bill of rights, but he remembers who gave him and Shummie the campaign cash. Remember he is the AG who argued against campaign finance as free speech and lost in front of SCOTUS.

To make matters worse, he was recently exonerated of any wrongdoing in campaign finance laws, which also seems like lawyer cronyism.

Shameful.

barry Kade
8 months 1 day ago

“You don’t need a [licensed] weatherman to know which way the wiind blows”

Janice Prindle
8 months 1 day ago

Bill Sorrell gets a “gentlemanly ” inestigation; Annette Smith gets the bully treatment– by Sorrell.

Disgusting.

Most of us would consider the allegations of election fraud by an attorney general more dangerous to a democracy than someone inadvertently afffronting the legal profession in advocating in public proceedings where “clients” are not even required to have a lawyer. The political motivation behind this is transparent. Proof that the influence of corporate money in politics affects Democrats as well as Republicans, and Vermont is not immune from this national evil.

Mark Milazzo
8 months 1 day ago

Hi Annette:
You are doing really good work and helping a lot of people in Vermont. Do not give up and do not be intimitated! I would suggest you set up a Go Fund Me website to cover any possible legal expenses or let me know where I can send you a check. Keep doing what you are doing!
Mark

Melodie McLane
8 months 1 day ago

This is a very good idea Mark, many of us would contribute!

walter Moses
8 months 1 day ago

Hang in there Annette. Mark and Melodie have the right idea. Count on me to help with any expenses, and set up that Go Fund Me website. Blittersdorf and Sorrel aren’t running this State yet.

8 months 1 day ago

A new low for Vermont and it’s easily pliable political class and obedient bureaucracy all too willing to serve the interests of the industrial wind and solar oligarchs.

A shameful act on the part of the Attorney’s General office against an individual trying to help ordinary citizens against big money interests and a dysfunctional bureaucratic system.

Annette you’re making a positive difference in addressing injustices against the small guy……keep up the good work. There are thousands of Vermonters with you.

Steve Thurston
8 months 1 day ago

From the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers: “A lawyer should use the law’s procedures only for legitimate purposes and not to harass or intimidate others.”

Bob Orleck
8 months 1 day ago

This is horrible and an obvious move to silence critics of industrial wind turbines on the ridge-lines of Vermont. This has to be terribly upsetting to her and surely is designed to silence opponents. Folks wake up before it is too late and before they come after you.

Nancy Tips
8 months 1 day ago
I guess those of us who are part of Vermont’s energy rebellion should be heartened by the sudden appearance of a good old dirty-tricks campaign by the renewable energy profiteers. Even so, I object to the clumsiness of their efforts to frame us. C’mon guys: are we a scary rabble who threaten the poor developers, or are we whining NIMBYs who can’t see the beauty in those “slowly turning windmills?” Or are we clever upstarts like Annette with the gall to teach ourselves and each other how to play the anti-democratic games favored in Montpelier? Are we goons, buffoons, or… Read more »
Kathy Leonard
8 months 1 day ago

This charade is an indictment of developers who force renewables carte blanche onto Vermont towns rather than work WITH them and an indictment of the PSB and a legislature who enable them. The result is a large and growing backlash against renewables in the state. How unfortunate.

George Plumb
8 months 1 day ago
What a sham! Annette is one of the most courageous, hard working, deep thinking, and devoted environmentalists I know. So she maybe made a coupler of minor mistakes. How many thousands of times has she offered good advice? And highly paid lawyers never make mistakes? Sadly, Vermont has become like the rest of the U.S. where millionaires and corporations control our government decision making process resulting in highly destructive development like wind towers on our ridgelines or massive development like the Exit 4 development proposed for Randolph. Yes, sometimes we end up with compromises like will probably happen in Randolph… Read more »
Annette Smith
8 months 1 day ago
George, please do not take anyone’s word in the article that I made any mistakes. Regarding the reference to the violation of the open meeting law, here’s the story: Town of Irasburg wanted to participate in the Blittersdorf-met-tower-without-a-CPG pre-hearing conference. I agreed to meet them at the hearing a few minutes early. We went into a conference room. I had never met or talked to most of the people in the room, I had no idea who was there representing the town. I suppose I might have first inquired if there was a quorum of the select board present, which… Read more »
Jacob Gregory
8 months 1 day ago

If they are going to go after Smith on this flimsy basis, why don’t they go after Shumlin and Sanders for practicing engineering without a license when they went after Vermont Yankee?

Kevin Jones
8 months 1 day ago
I could not agree more with Peter Galbraith and others here. The people complaining about Annette are not the people she has worked with but instead the monied interests that she has opposed. You won’t find people who have worked alongside Annette who criticize her, they praise her for her skills and perseverance. Those who don’t like Annette are the ones who are concerned because Annette is effective. Procedural rules should be followed but what non-lawyers can do in these quasi-judicial proceedings varies by state. When I was Director of Energy Policy for the City of New York as a… Read more »
Annette Smith
8 months 1 day ago
Kevin, I have never crossed any procedural boundaries. One attorney attempted to get me to go on the record and explain my role. Here’s the video, go to 14 minutes in https://youtu.be/jboQWZP1oS8. We were looking at a calendar on my iPad looking at dates. Is that practicing law without a license? The hearing officer did not require me to say anything but he allowed the attorney to ask the question on the record and I complied. Note the attempt to get me to say I am “advising” people, apparently trying to set me up for these absurd allegations. I am… Read more »
Kevin Jones
8 months 1 day ago

Obviously I trust that you did not. But if a citizen or organization were to make a mistake in these administrative processes to me the first time it happens does not warrant much more than a warning. Is it a worse offense than speeding particularly if no one is harmed? We have solar companies that are participating in deceptive consumer practices and they are being given awards and recognized at press conferences by elected officials. Is consumer deception politically correct in Vermont but protecting the environment and standing up for the underrepresented is worthy of investigation?

Steve Woodward
8 months 1 day ago
I Was always under the impression that when you are being accused of something illegal,you had the right to stand in front of your accuser.Not knowing who brought these accusations is very Stalin like.These charges have no legal leg to stand on,only the ability to detract Annette from HELPING,NOT CHARGING! citizens trying to get a fair shake in a lopsided process.I’m sure the two attorneys didn’t file the complaint,but I’m willing to bet they know who did.Come out of the shadows and make yourself known,I know your reading this.Funny how after all the press about Wednesdays events at the statehouse,… Read more »
rosemarie jackowski
8 months 1 day ago

First they came for the pan-handlers, then they came for Smith…..
The chipping away at the First Amendment is a big problem in Vermont.

Peggy Sapphire
8 months 1 day ago
Annette Smith’s extraordinary advocacy on behalf of “ordinary” Vermonters faced with the quasi-judicial corporate-friendly PSB powers has been profoundly & singularly effective. Nothing else explains the AG’s effort to intimidate & silence her efforts on behalf of industrial wind turbines opponents. Smith has proven her prowess representing Vermonters, whose only recourse in defense of their homes, properties & quality of life has been to enter the PSB arena where Goliath Corporations prevail. Annette Smith’s knowledge of the law does not make her a lawyer, it defines her unequalled expertise. The AG’s perverse investigation of Annette Smith is evidence of her… Read more »
Justin Turco
8 months 1 day ago
Annette was a friend to us in Ira when wind developer: Vermont Community Wind Farm (Enel) came after us. 65 turbines on 3 significant separate ridgelines. Acting as a Lawyer?! Not even close! It is absolutely a witch hunt designed to slow the shifting tide that is building against Industrial Scale Renewable Energy Developers. Nothing VCE does has led to bad ends for the groups of people she’s helped to get organized. Period. The bad end is what’s coming for an administration and it’s dirty friends who harass the only person in Vermont who actually cares about the desires of… Read more »
Kim Fried
8 months 1 day ago
Do we really think this is Vermont? Here we have Annette doing everything she can to help Vermonters to participate in a lawyer/developer run state and lets shut her up. This is the liberal, progressive state of Vermont? Give me a break. Are the lawyers seeing the future of big income being impacted by citizen participation? Are the developers starting to see the hand writing on the wall? Is this lawyer/developer/legislature house of cards starting to tip over? We the poor small towns and citizens owe Annette so much thanks and gratitude, and if it’s taken away by the State,… Read more »
Stan Shapiro
8 months 1 day ago

Annette Smith is an advocate who deserves the same respect and accolade as Karen Silkwood or Norma Rae.She has selflessly worked on behalf of poor and defenseless people against overwhelming and powerful interests.
She personally advised me she was not a lawyer and reccomended legal representation which was sought.

Annette Smith
8 months 1 day ago
Thank you for all your support. This is the letter I received Thursday http://vce.org/VCE_AG_011916.pdf After I received it I called the attorney listed (had to look up his number in the state phone directory because the AG office’s phone system was a round robin where whatever button I pushed it went back to the opening message telling me to push buttons). He would not tell me who filed the complaint. In response to my question he said it was not a complaint. They had received documents. I asked him what would happen if I did not respond. He said the… Read more »
Jacob Gregory
8 months 1 day ago
Mickey Mouse and spoiled children who don’t seem to understand the consequences of their actions. They run Vermont Yankee out of town on a rail and then complain that they aren’t gettting the same revenues and grants and payments from the cash cow that they killed, and are still trying to milk it. They allow hundreds of miles of ridgelines to be blighted by these monstrosities of windmills, leaving an ugly, scarred environment, and then don’t seem to understand or accept that people might take exception to that. When you have children running your government, expect selfish and immature actions.
rosemarie jackowski
8 months 1 day ago

Annette, it is time for you to run for governor. Governor Smith has a nice ring to it !!!

On your first day in office, you can restore the First Amendment in Vermont.

Theo Talcott
8 months 20 hours ago

Yes! Annette for Governor. A few years ago I made this video to support a write-in campaign for Annette for Governor, and I repost it here today to remind folks that Annette would be a great governor. https://youtu.be/JC7fbBt4QaI

Annette Smith is the bravest environmental champion in modern Vermont history, a diligent champion of the poor and marginalized, and someone we should rally to support as she is harassed by the moneypeople and their lawyers. I seriously want Annette to be Vermont’s next Governor, charged with a mandate for major reform at the PSB. What do you say, Vermont????!!!

Amelia Silver
8 months 2 hours ago
Assistant AG Chen’s letter certainly does mention that it’s a criminal investigation. It says the potential charge is “criminal contempt.” If you were a lawyer you would understand the plain language of the letter.I don’t know anything about your obviously extensive ‘advocacy’ but I do know I would never rely on a lay person to represent me in complex matters that require legal experience and acumen. And your inability to understand the plain meaning of the letter you mention is an indication that you may not be adequately representing the interests you care so much about. It appears you have… Read more »
Scott Woodward
7 months 30 days ago
Amelia, With all due respect, I don’t see in the letter where it explicitly states that the investigation is criminal in nature (I may just be missing it). The letter does reference “contempt,” but unless someone understood that in Vermont, unlike many other states, the unlicensed practice of law has only one remedy – criminal contempt (In re Welch), then it’s not obvious by the letter that the investigation is criminal in nature. Moreover, it’s interesting that the most recent ABA surveys show that when asked “How Active is Jurisdiction in enforcing the UPL regulations?” the answer has consistently been… Read more »
mike pollica
7 months 30 days ago

Amelia, no offense but you are seeing things in AG Chen’s letter that don’t exist. The awful letter clearly does not say the potential charge is “criminal contempt”. Please don’t make up things that suit your agenda.

Liane Allen
7 months 24 days ago

If she were familiar with the law, she would have known that the referenced contempt *is* criminal contempt. While a layperson may not know this fact, a person with knowledge of the law *would* know it – even without the word criminal being present in the letter.

Glenn Thompson
7 months 29 days ago

To clear up this misunderstanding!

“I can confirm that a criminal investigation is underway,” Assistant Attorney General John Treadwell said in an interview Friday afternoon. “

And refer to this link to learn what division of the AG’s office Mr. Chen is assigned. Sounds like a criminal investigation to me!

http://www.middlebury.edu/studentlife/cci/exploration/sophomore-conference/bio

Tyler Resch
8 months 1 day ago

EvHNc
This outpouring of support for Annette is most gratifying. The attempt to intimidate or silence her are as abhorrent as they are obvious. It is becoming clear that industrial wind has no place in the mountains of Vermont.

Steven Pike
8 months 1 day ago

Wow, I guess they will come after you if you are not PC enough and get in their way, Funny, this time it’s the left aligned with big money because there is so much green money to be made.

Kevin Jones
8 months 1 day ago
I think the unknown party or parties who initiated this will soon find that this tactic has backfired for them. While Annette must take this seriously for others this is just going to cause us to rally around her and VCE because the real democrats in this state respect her moxy and the rights of those who VCE has so ably supported. This is just going to fire a lot of people up who have been concerned that our supposed public servants in Montpelier have gotten a little to close to the regulated. We need more public participation in these… Read more »
Rob Pforzheimert
8 months 1 day ago

Annette,
I’m not a lawyer, but offer the following, free legal advice, which the AG can prosecute me for if he’d like. Tell the AG to take this politically motivated, unjustified, unconstitutional complaint and stuff it.

8 months 1 day ago

This is a violation of Smith’s constitutional rights as well as all the Americans and people globally being harmed by the lies and deceptions of this industry, which is ruining our environment in the name of the environment. Anyone who researches this first hand knows the layers of lies that should be allowed to come to the public- it is a huge cover up and anyone bringing the truths to light should be applauded not made afraid to speak for conservation of our natural resources and human health and welfare.

Barbara Durkin
8 months 1 day ago

It would be just if wind LLCs were compelled to demonstrate alleged benefits and held to a standard of truth in advertising. That citizens, like Annette Smith, are exposed to criminal fines and incarceration when they assist other citizens defending their private property rights is a gross injustice.

Jane Palmer
8 months 1 day ago
From my perspective, it seems that Ms Smith has made a difference in the regulatory process and that is an inconvenience and a financial assault to the attorneys that make their living within the process and their clients. So, the lawyers do what they are so good at, they get the AG to do an investigation. Seems kind of like a kid calling their mom to step in and settle a fight. What are the attorneys so afraid of? Ms Smith’s participation probably creates more billable hours for them. What I fear is happening is that Ms Smith has disclosed… Read more »
Penny Gray
8 months 1 day ago

Wow, Annette must be pretty darn good to have scared the wind industry suits this badly. She should go to law school, and the wind developers and their suits should be ashamed of themselves for trying to intimidate Vermont citizens. They can’t put a gag order on free speech.

Luann Therrien
8 months 1 day ago
I am finding it very difficult to write a comment. When people or agencies go after someone I consider a dear friend and confidant is the quickest way to set me off. In our almost four years of having contact with Annette Smith, she has never given us legal advice. If Annette is guilty of anything it is that of being a dear friend and confidant. She has been a shoulder when I needed to cry and vent over the absurd way we have been treated by the State and the Industrial Wind Industry. She has laughed with me over… Read more »
Phil Lovely
8 months 1 day ago

Annette has been tirelessly challenging big wind for years. The Shumlin Government tolerates advocacy-so long as it’s not successful. This effort to silence one of the strongest voices in opposition to industrial degradation is despicable. We must stand with Annettee and push back.

Doug Kramer
7 months 24 days ago

Phil, Short and to-the-point. Thank you!

Robbin Clark
8 months 1 day ago

WE would not be in this situation if the PSB had done their job in the first place. Annette has been the ONLY public advocate for so many. Things happen for a reason only good will come from this. My check is in the mail!!!!!!!!

Peter Morris
8 months 1 day ago
If there is a ‘crime’ here… Annette is NOT the one who should be in the crosshairs. In scanning all the comments, there is not one voice who is speaking against her. If any person or group who had sought her support was complaining they were duped by a charlatan, that might put a different blush on the charges. But, I very much doubt that you would find that to be the case, in any instance. She does not drive a Rolls-Royce, and works on a shoe-string budget, in being Vermont’s champion against the bullying tactics of the wind industry.… Read more »
Tom Shea
8 months 1 day ago
Funny charge in a state that does not require a law degree to be a practicing attorney. Also very curious that there does not seem to be an offended party (i.e., a party that would have been adversely affected by the supposed activity). Still looking for the first comment of someone who was a direct recipient of the supposed ‘legal’ advice. While I have not been involved in all that many of Ms. Smith’s activities, in all of my dealings with her, she never (NEVER) represented any of her involvement nor requested any (ANY) payment for such advice, either directly… Read more »
Fred Woogmaster
8 months 1 day ago

Petty Politically Partisan Prosecutor Persecutes

Annette Smith is only to be commended for her diligent work;
Mr. Sorrell is only to be condemned for this action.

8 months 1 day ago

Why are her accusers not identifying themselves? What do they fear? This sure smacks of plutocratic bullying.

John Rodgers
8 months 1 day ago

Further proof that the system needs a major overhaul. Annette is the only one helping towns around Vermont. This is more bullying by wealthy developers who want to run over towns unimpeded . Thank you Annette for all that you do.

8 months 1 day ago

This would be laughable were it not so terrifying. Shame on the AG’s office!

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