Jim Condos

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Election Commission data request on hold pending lawsuit

MONTPELIER — Secretary of State Jim Condos said a request for voter information from President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity is on hold while the commission deals with a federal lawsuit. Condos and other election officials around the country received an email Monday from Andrew Kossack, the designated federal officer for the commission, asking them to hold off on sending the information requested by the commission. The hold, according to the email, is due to suit filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia by the Electronic Privacy Information Center that seeks a temporary restraining order. “Until the Judge rules on the TRO, we request that you hold on submitting any data. We will follow up with you with further instructions once the Judge issues her ruling,” Kossack wrote in the email, which Condos provided to the Vermont Press Bureau. Continue Reading →

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AG Donovan reviewing request for voter information

MONTPELIER — Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan says his office is reviewing a request from President Donald Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity to determine if Secretary of State Jim Condos is required to provide information sought by the commission. The president launched the commission earlier this year after losing the popular vote by nearly 3 million votes to Democrat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Trump claimed that 3 to 5 million people voted illegally in the election, although that unsubstantiated claim has been widely panned by experts. Last week the commission requested personal voter information from all 50 states, including birthdates, drivers license numbers, parts of Social Security numbers and information about criminal records and military service. Condos initially said he would provide limited information that is already public record. Continue Reading →

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Watch: Capital Beat with Secretary of State Condos and Sen. Jeanette White

Vermont Press Bureau chief Neal Goswami discusses an ethics bill passed by the Senate with Secretary of State Jim Condos and Sen. Jeanette White, the chairwoman of the Senate Government Operations Committee. Capital Beat airs Mondays at 7:30 p.m. on Vermont PBS Plus. Continue Reading →

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An independent ethics commission is still needed

he Vermont Constitution (Chapter 1, Article 6) demands that our elected officials are open, transparent, and accountable. The authors understood how transparency in government is the very basis of trust. State statute also demands access and accountability:

It is the policy of this subchapter to provide for free and open examination of records consistent with Chapter I, Article 6 of the Vermont Constitution. Officers of government are trustees and servants of the people and it is in the public interest to enable any person to review and criticize their decisions even though such examination may cause inconvenience or embarrassment. (1 V.S.A. § 315)

The overwhelming majority of our dedicated local and state public officials are trustworthy, hard-working individuals striving to better the lives of those they serve. Continue Reading →

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Sanders rallies for Minter, Democrats

MONTPELIER — Sen. Bernie Sanders brought his political revolution home to Vermont Friday night, rallying Vermont Democrats in support of the party’s statewide candidates and boosting the campaign of gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter who is locked in a tie race. Sanders, whose presidential campaign soared high enough to provide Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton with a serious challenge in the primary, played the roll of emcee, introducing each statewide candidate at the podium. He also shared an abridged version of the stump speech he bellowed out across the country during his presidential campaign. “Nationally, democracy is, in fact, being threatened by Citizen’s United and by billionaires all over this country who intend to do everything they can to buy elections. In Vermont, we are saying you are not going to buy this election. Continue Reading →

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Sanders finally backs Minter, statewide Dems

MONTPELIER — Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has finally proffered his coveted endorsement to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Sue Minter and the entire slate of statewide Democratic candidates. Sanders, easily the most popular politician in the state, announced his endorsements in a news release Thursday afternoon without any fanfare. They include U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, his colleagues in Congress. For state offices, Sanders is backing Treasurer Beth Pearce, Auditor Doug Hoffer, Secretary of State Jim Condos and T.J. Donovan for attorney general. Chittenden County Sen. David Zuckerman, the Democratic and Progressive nominee for lieutenant governor, was previously endorsed by Sanders. Continue Reading →

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AG’s office finds no bribery in wind project proposal

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Attorney General’s office has reviewed a proposal a proposal from a wind developer to pay registered voters in the towns where they hope to build wind turbines and determined that it does not amount to a bribe. Iberdrola Renewables is looking to erect 24 turbines in the towns of Grafton and Windham in Windham county. The company recently revamped its proposal, reducing the number of wind turbines from 28 to 24, in an attempt to ease concerns in those communities. Eight turbines would remain in Grafton but Windham would see four less. The company also sweetened the financial pot of money it is offering to the towns in its revised proposal. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin administration releases emails it sought to delete

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration has released the first batch of emails sent and received by five former staffers that it sought to destroy last month, a request that drew heavy criticism because it came just days before state and federal fraud charges against two Northeast Kingdom developers were revealed. The first batch of emails — about 5,500 — that were slated for deletion was released to the Vermont Press Bureau Friday as part of a public records request. The administration agreed to release the emails after they were reviewed to redact protected and privileged information. Scott Coriell, spokesman for Gov. Peter Shumlin, said all members of the governor’s staff, excluding the governor, have spent the past week completing the request, which required about 200 staff hours. There are tens of thousands of emails that are subject to the records request, according to Coriell, and the administration has no precise timeline for when the remaining records will be released. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin administration defends its request to delete emails

MONTPELIER — The Shumlin administration sought Monday to disassociate its request to delete the emails of five former staffers from a major civil fraud case revealed last week against two developers in the Northeast Kingdom who used a foreign investor program overseen by the state to raise capital. Top administration officials briefed reporters on its request made prior to the public revelation of fraud charges against Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros to delete the emails of former administration staff members that are more than three years old. The request to delete emails came under fire over the weekend after it was revealed in a VTDigger.org article. “To conflate them is absolutely incorrect and inaccurate,” Darren Springer, chief of staff for Gov. Peter Shumlin, told reporters Monday. One of the former staffers in question, Alexandra MacLean, left the governor’s office for a job at Jay Peak, where many of the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program development projects headed by Stenger and Quiros took place. Continue Reading →

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Lawmakers mull ethics

MONTPELIER — House lawmakers are contemplating the creation of an ethics commission, how to pay for it and what options they might have if they can’t find the money. The House Government Operations Committee discussed a proposed bill Thursday that would do such things as require lawmakers to disclose their assets to determine possible conflicts of interest, a move that would bring Vermont in line with the practices of the majority of states. According to the Joint Fiscal Office, Vermont is one of eight states that does not have an ethics commission, and one of three states that does not require financial disclosures for lawmakers or members of the executive branch. The Senate is also considering its own bill to create an ethics commission. “I just encourage people to understand, that from the outside, the lack of an ethics commission, it’s really a matter of the perception being more harmful than the reality,” said Allen Gilbert, executive director of the Vermont Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. Continue Reading →

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