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Public Post is a community reporting initiative using digital tools to report on cities and towns across Vermont.Public Post is the only resource that lets you browse and search documents across dozens of Vermont municipal websites in one place.Follow reporter Amy Kolb Noyes and #PublicPost on Twitter and read news from the Post below.

Efforts Are Underway To Put Political Corruption On Your Town Meeting Warning

An illustration of a hand holding bills of money.
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A coalition of Vermont organizations wants to change how politics is funded in Vermont, starting with a town meeting referendum.

In his campaign for president, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has brought talk of a "political revolution" to a national stage. And now a coalition of Vermont organizations is calling for a town meeting referendum to revolutionize how politics is funded in Vermont and the United States. The Shrewsbury-based group Vermont Acts has put out a press release saying, "Vermonters around the state are moving to add political corruption to town meeting agendas." The local referendum would call upon the state legislature to pass "comprehensive political anti-corruption legislation."

"Vermont is one of just three states without an independent ethics commission, financial disclosure requirements for public officials, or a revolving door policy," the release states. "We are a state where legislators can use campaign funds for personal use, accept gifts from anyone except lobbyists, and keep official emails secret. Recently in Vermont government officials have used the revolving door to go from official regulator to employee of a company they regulated, and officials have been accused of awarding contracts to campaign contributors."

Vermont Acts says groups have formed in Shrewbury, Jericho, Marlboro, Barre and Williston to organize petitions to put a nonbinding referendum on local town meeting warnings. While the group's website does not provide specific petition language, it calls upon volunteers to organize efforts in their communities and submit petitions to City and Town Clerks by January 15 for town Town Meeting Day in March.

Vermont Acts says it is proposing anti-corruption legislation that would:

  • Stop political bribery by overhauling lobbying and ethics laws
  • End secret money by dramatically increasing transparency
  • Give every voter a voice by creating citizen-funded elections
  • Enforce the rules by creating an independent ethics commission.

Regarding the effort to seek an independent government ethics commission, Vermont Acts says it is leading a coalition that includes Represent.Us, VPIRG, Campaign for Vermont, Vermont ACLU, and the Vermont Secretary of State.

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