Herald of Randolph editor gives super PAC ad money to Randolph Area Food Shelf

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.

Drysdale wrote in his Oct. 25 editorial:

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.

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Anne Galloway

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  • Paula Schramm

    Good for Mr. Drysdale and the Herald !

    That’s been my overwhelming feeling too…. our local, small town way of campaigning is a precious political process. Having five state-wide mailings targeting individuals whom the Super PAC doesn’t even know, with the money spent on each mailing surpassing the money raised by all candidates at the county level put together, doesn’t seem to be about democracy.

  • Kelly Cummings

    Yes! Yes! Mr. Drysdale! This is the way we push back! This is the way we stand together! I hope others join you! What a brave and courageous kind act!

    This is truly…..Citizens United!!!!

  • Congratulations to Mr. Drysdale for publicly declaring his newspaper’s independence from Super PAC money!

    This is one of the rare positive messages this election election season. This positive message trumps all of the Super PAC messages (mostly negative) of 2012!

    By donating the Super PAC proceeds to the Randolph Area Food Shelf he is further supporting his local community. A sum of $504 is not much in the grand scheme of things. But the people that the Food Shelf helps are the folks that are sometimes ignored by the politicians and the parties, via demographic micro-targeting campaigns and their search for “likely voters”.

  • walter carpenter

    “This is truly…..Citizens United!!!!”

    Right on, Kelly. This is us standing up against these superpacs. Mr. Drysdale made an incredible statement. It is because of the people behind these superpacs and what they do that local foodshelves are so urgently needed.

  • That’s an excellent observation, Walt, on the link between the need for food shelves and the subversion of our political system by the ultra-wealthy. Dick Drysdale made just the right statement.

  • Walter Carpenter

    Thanks so much, Tom. I appreciate it. The idea to put that link together came as I read the piece and then the comments from Kelly, Paula, and Ron above mine. You said it correctly, though, with “Dick Drysdale made just the right statement.”

  • Mari Cordes,

    Put People First – wisdom and compassion in action!

  • Go ahead and make it political as always. He did a good thing for whatever motivation he had and leave it at that.
    BTW, how much did you people donate to your local food shelf?

  • walter carpenter

    “Go ahead and make it political as always. He did a good thing for whatever motivation he had and leave it at that.”

    We did not make it political. It was political to begin with. What Mr. Drysdale did was to reject the VF super pac and that is a political statement if there ever was one.

  • Moshe Braner

    What Mr. Drysdale did was NOT to reject the ad, but to let it run. What happens to the money afterwards makes no difference to that. If he could not legally reject the ad, perhaps he could have forwarded the money to Rep. Buxton’s campaign to balance things out? Or, if that’s legally blocked too, offer Buxton free ad space?

  • kevin ellis

    I am for a Digger one-day conference on this issue. Invite Dick to be a panelist. As a partner in a firm that created a Super Pac, I am torn on this issue. Dick refers to our “precious” political process that is being polluted and destroyed by monied outsiders. Really? Thomas Jefferson hired a journalist to slander John Adams. I am wary of a “precious” political process. It is rough and tumble and not for the faint of heart. It weeds out the weak and second rate. But it also rewards those with the money to run. At the very least, why is it so hard to pass legislation requiring immediate, full-disclosure of all spending on the web. Let’s at least do that.

    • Paula Schramm

      ” I am wary of a “precious” political process. It is rough and tumble and not for the faint of heart.”

      Kevin Ellis – Yes, let’s thoroughly discuss & debate this issue of big, and rather anonymous money pouring in on our political campaigns now….I think with this season’s Vermonters First example it’s clear we will need to address this in Vermont as well as in the rest of the country.

      When I echoed Dick Drysdale’s use of the word “precious” for our political process, it was not in the more perjorative sense of rare and delicate….I mean it in the sense of “something worth keeping, not giving up on “. Yes, it’s rough and tumble, not for the faint of heart…and also local, between people we know, or get to know, so we form opinions of them whether or not they have lots of money. When you know where the money is coming from, that tells you something about the candidate, and becomes part of the contest. So I agree, disclosure is something we ought to insist on at least. If Lenore Broughton had signed off on all the mailings and TV ads she paid for with “This message approved by Lenore Broughton”, I would have felt much less frustrated by one person out-spending the entire campaign chests of everyone running in my county with even just one of the 5 mailings sent out ( not one of them paid for by the Republican Party – all by Ms. Broughton ).

      I think we must discuss the matter of scale somewhere along the way too. This is why there ever was the issue of campaign finance reform, and now with Citizens United that old discussion has been blown out of the water, and we must start over from the beginning.

  • Tim Cansfield

    So, all of you who are congratulating each other over what you see as a “victory” over some monster, what do you have to say about Bernie Sanders receiving nearly all of his campaign donations from out of state contributors, including countless PACs? What’s comical about your overtly injured sensibilities is that you have let the liberal media stir you up into a frenzy about a local woman donating a bunch of money to influence politics in her own state, but you apparently don’t mind at all that out-of-state organizations buy your senator. I bet that’s different, right? 😉