This week, two Democrat candidates vying to become Vermont’s next attorney general had what could be their final debate before the primary election on Aug. 9 — and both revealed strong left-wing views regarding the office and its role.
The two candidates are Charity Clark, a Democrat from Williston who has served as chief of staff for former Attorney General T.J. Donovan. Her primary opponent, Democrat Rory Thibault, of Cabot, has been the Washington County State’s Attorney since 2013.
The winner of that race will face GOP candidate H. Brooke Paige in the general election in November.
During Wednesday night’s debate, each candidate talked about their strongly liberal-leaning stances on social justice, abortion, climate policy, and more. The two Democrats agreed on most matters, with few exceptions, mostly involving how to deal with law enforcement matters.
“I was a part of decision making on all the major issues that face the Attorney General’s Office, whether it be consumer, environmental or criminal,” Clark said of her four years in her position.
Thibault is an Army veteran who attended Vermont Law School, and he worked in Washington, D.C., with the Veteran’s Affairs Committee. He also has been on the Cabot School Board since 2017, where he worked on their Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity Policy, among other causes.
“I supported our students when they raised the Black Lives Matter flags and the pride flag on our campus,” Thibault said.
Police use of force
On the issue of policing, Clark answered a question about accountability for incidents involving police use of force.
“I was involved in several reviews and decisions that were made in regards to police use of force,” she said. “Those are incredibly challenging cases and they are incredibly important cases. … For now, I think it’s working in terms of the process for review.”
Thibault differed, however, indicating that he would try to increase police oversight.
“I don’t think Vermonters have confidence in how our law enforcement or prosecuting agencies are responding to the review of officer-involved shootings,” he said.
He suggested that his office should gain new powers to prosecute the police.
“The attorney general and the state’s attorneys should have the ability to directly refer officers for decertification,” he said. “We also need to consider whether or not there needs to be a special prosecutor assigned to handle these cases to ensure that there is true impartiality, and that should be coupled with the ability to have an effective Internal Affairs program for the small municipal departments throughout the state.”
Also on a related law-enforcement issue, both candidates supported the use of overdose-prevention sites for addicts to use without fear of prosecution.
Each candidate was asked what they would do to protect abortion in Vermont — including for those who travel from out of state to get one. Both candidates expressed strong sentiment to have abortions continue unabated in Vermont. Clark went first.
“I will do everything in my power as attorney general to make sure that Vermont can be a safe harbor, for not just people who are seeking an abortion, but also protecting providers who are here in Vermont who are assisting with an abortion,” she said.
Thibault echoed that sentiment.
“We need to make sure that the Attorney General’s Office is not siloed into division, but an all-hands-on-deck approach to make sure that we are not complicit in punishing or criminalizing people seeking a safe harbor in Vermont,” he said.
Each candidate was asked how they would use the office to advance goals toward climate mitigation. Clark doubled down on this cause, boasting of her involvement with the Global Warming Solutions Act.
“Global warming is a huge existential crisis of our time,” she said. “For me, I have been involved since the beginning of the Global Warming Solutions Act, since I was chief of staff at the Attorney General’s Office these past few years, and I oversaw our legislative work.”
Thibault committed to using the office for environmental activism.
“The main role that I see for the attorney general is to continually point out in every setting — whether it’s a study committee or whether it’s a meeting with the Secretary of Administration or the governor, him or herself — to point out what the consequences of failure and inaction are [regarding climate mitigation policy].”
He added that he would look “for opportunities to intervene in public utility cases, or looking at ways we can streamline the process for citing solar arrays and renewable energy in the state.”
Other notable comments
Neither candidate expressed much interest in reaching out to GOP voters. Thibault, speaking of conservative Vermonters, said “right-wing extremism threatens every aspect of our lives as we know it here in Vermont.”
Clark said she supported former Attorney General William Sorrell’s actions against oil companies for their public statements and research regarding the industry’s impact on global warming. During Sorrell’s term, AGs United for Clean Power conducted a multi-state investigation of ExxonMobil and various research organization.
“That used the Consumer Protection Act to sue the industry for essentially brainwashing, in a nutshell,” she said.
Clark posed a question to Thibault about how he might use the office similarly in multi-state lawsuits, and he suggested he might pursue similar actions using the office.
“I would like to delegate and allow the experts in the office the latitude to pursue cases that they believe advance the interest of all Vermonters,” he answered.
Watch the full debate online here.
Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.
3 thoughts on “Democrat candidates for AG advocate for more political activism on climate, social justice”
Thank you for pointing out the delusional and destructive agendas of these two progressive liberal candidates for the position of Vermont’s attorney general. It appeals that neither one, if elected, actually plans to enforce existing laws for public safety or to honor and protect the rights of citizens as outlined in the United States or Vermont Constitutions.
As Ms Stone says, they’re both pretty disgusting…
It’s interesting how Thibault calls conservative Vermonters “Right Wing Extremists”.
How kind and tolerant of him..coming from the party that pushes ‘Co-Exist”.
Well guess what Mr.Thibault.. I’ve been here longer than you have and I remember a very different Vermont in my youth.
The Conservatives in Vermont are no different than they ever were.
What is very different is JFK’s party.
Things on the Right look very far away when you are now so far Left that you’ve left the lane and you’re now so far down in the gutter your sucking in water.
Vermont did not used to be a flat out actual socialist state.
So this man is really a large part of the problem.
I find it all pretty disgusting.
Go read John Klar’s article about crime in Vermont, is this what you want to vote for more of?
Because that is what you’ll get with these two Democrats hacks that are totally owned- and apparently quite brainwashed- and ill informed.
The lefty loonies buy into the lies without question. Only someone who has no ability to use critical thinking is willing to pay considerably more for energy to reduce carbon emissions when VT is already a very insignificant contributor. If these people were told by their heroes to fill their pools by spitting into them we’d see people doing that, sad to say. They don’t want to know the truth about EVs or their batteries, they only know they are saving the planet in their clearly deluded minds.
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