John Klar: Vermont taxpayers need an attorney in government

Vermonters are being subjugated by their government and denied basic rights in the bargain. Worse, we are compelled to pay the legal fees of those who oppress us. The attorney general, and most of the attorneys employed by the state, are aligned against taxpayers. It is time to hire an attorney ombudsman who will stand without conflict for the citizens instead of the government and the special interests that now operate it.

The legalese in Vermont government has created a veil through which citizens cannot clearly know what their government is doing, let alone ensure accountability. Here are a number of examples.

John Klar

On-farm slaughter rules. I learned of a Vermont statute that would imprison a farmer for up to one year for failure to file an on-farm slaughtering reporting form. This flies in the face of basic criminal law protections: I was flabbergasted that such a provision could ever have been enacted. When I raised the subject with the Senate Agriculture Committee, then-Senator David Zuckerman literally waved it off and said, “Well, we can all say things are unconstitutional.”

This summarizes the problem — legislators seek to enact laws without any thought whatsoever of the legality under the Constitution (it gets in the way). But of course, this is exactly why we have a Constitution — so it will get in the way. In their zeal to get the Constitution out of the way, our legislators and bureaucrats are very determined to violate it, remove it, ignore it and denigrate it.

H.610 sought to impose lengthy waiting periods on gun purchases, a gross violation of the Second Amendment. But Vermont’s Judiciary Committee (staffed by two lawyers who do know better) endorsed the bill. So did the Office of Legislative Counsel, and Attorney General T.J. Donovan. This was a flagrant effort to violate clear law, endorsed by those presumably paid to preserve and defend We the People from such infringements. Further, it was revealed that special interests had drafted the subject legislation.

This is par for the course in the Bloated Dome. Donoavan and Gov. Phil Scott have both pandered obscenely to Planned Parenthood in its efforts to ensconce third-trimester “procedures” as a Vermont growth industry. Yet in response to my records requests, after charging thousands of dollars, Donovan’s office withheld numerous documents; Phil Scott didn’t charge to withhold records. Their “executive privilege” outranks telling the public the truth.

The Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) is boldly unconstitutional — not a peep of concern from any government attorneys. Private property rights will be taken without due process; out-of-state special interests gain a cause of action and a right to recover attorneys’ fees. We the People? Nada.

Net metering transfers many millions of dollars from poor, fixed-income ratepayers to wealthy homeowners. So do the COVID-crafted school lunch plan and EV cars — where is the citizen ombudsman in government to institute proceedings or raise an alarm against these unconstitutional violations?

Discriminating against the unvaccinated is unconstitutional. The arbitrary closing of businesses (and restrictions on travel and speech) under COVID has touched upon foundational liberties — intrusions that are poo-pooed in hysteria by those who increasingly earn our distrust. A bill is before the Legislature that seeks to mandate that all rentals be overseen by a new government agency — have any of the drafters, or the Office of Legislative Counsel, ever read the Constitution?

With critical race theory in Vermont schools, and the incessant mantra that Vermont is systemically racist, the floodgates protecting Vermonters from treasonous betrayal have become as unhinged as the progressive cult that threw them open wide. Vermont’s police have been falsely labeled racist using a perverse manipulation of statistics, backed by the governor — where is their legal defense?

Two bills of 2021 are particularly offensive — H.273 and H.210. Both are premised on falsehoods which are incorporated into their language. In an effort to trace where these lies came from, I have tried to discover their legislative history. It is clear that they were both drafted by people ignorant of Vermont’s history and eager to manipulate statistics into lies — but we cannot know who wrote them (it is verboten).

H.273 alleges Vermonters pushed black farmers off Vermont farmland using sharecropping and Jim Crow laws. (It never happened.) I requested related records from the Office of Legislative Counsel (trying to learn if NAACP acolyte Steffen Gillom penned H.273, which appears likely), but was flatly denied in this March 10 response from Deputy Chief Counsel Michael O’Grady:

As the nine withheld records relate to legal services provided to legislators in fulfillment of a drafting request, the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct and statute mandate that the Office of Legislative Counsel maintain the confidentiality of these client records. Consequently, I have concluded that the nine records were properly withheld from public inspection and copying. … Your request also asked me to answer additional questions that would require me to provide you with legal analysis. Under Rules 1.1 and 1.2 of the Vermont Rules of Professional Conduct, an attorney is limited to providing representation and legal services to a client. Statute clearly provides that the clients of the Office of Legislative Counsel are legislators and the Vermont General Assembly as a whole. You are not a client of the Office of Legislative Counsel and, thus, I politely decline to answer your questions.

But this reveals a conflict. If a government actor violates the oath of office, or engages in fraud (like lying in draft legislation about Vermont’s history, or perverting statistical facts deliberately), and citizens can’t even read the trail, then our occupiers are revealed for what they are — thugs using thuggery to silence opposition. There can be no accountability in such a “system.”

We see the conflict again in H.210. This bill claims that the wealth disparity between black and white Vermonters proves systemic racism. Yet, where did the statute’s facts come from? Vermont blacks’ median income has dropped by $9,400 in just a few years: this vile “statute” labels our state and people “systemically racist” based on this perversion of data — how is a citizen to determine where the data came from, or prove its falsehood, when nothing is procured by the office that oversees its drafting?

Here is Attorney O’Grady’s March 8 response to that records request:

All 19 records withheld were produced or acquired in providing legal services to a legislator, most specifically to a request or requests for draft legislation. … I also construed your appeal letter as requesting the names of the clients to whom the duty of confidentiality extends. The names of the clients who requested legal services are information related to their representation. Identifying the clients could in itself violate the Office of Legislative Counsel’s ethical and legal obligation not to reveal information relating to representation of a client. Thus, the names of the clients who were provided services are also withheld.

Meanwhile, Xusana Davis and her Office of Racist Hatred, Lies and Agitation are above the law — they don’t even respond to my record requests, This is called colonization, by those who ridiculously claim Vermont was “colonized” by white supremacy. Tell the locals how stupid they are, don’t let them speak unless they comply, and don’t permit the natives constitutional protections.

Vermont pays millions of dollars to attorneys who do not represent the interests of We the People, are paid by We the People, and whose loyalty is to government even when it acts criminally. This is itself criminal.

We the People need an Attorney Specific — specific to safeguarding citizen rights. We need a watchdog against the conflicts of interest that now dominate the Bloated Dome. Vermont’s government is “systemically unaccountable.” (How about that EB-5 fraud?).

A distrusted government cannot prevail. As I wrote back in 2016: “We see this problem at nearly every turn. Our Constitution was designed to prevent runaway government, but our Legislature and attorney general have run away from the Constitution.”

John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield, and the former pastor of the First Congregational Church of Westfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.

5 thoughts on “John Klar: Vermont taxpayers need an attorney in government

  1. I’m no lawyer but I did come across a couple of cases in some research I was doing. Between these two cases it seems that executive privilege is most often used to protect the “personal opinion” of the executive allowing them to have their personal beliefs. However anything considered “work product” was not covered under executive privilege.

    It’s my understanding that these two cases have helped to shape our freedom of information act laws surrounding executive privilege. Maybe it’s time there was a third case to be outlined.

    Herald Ass’n Inc. v. Dean, 174 Vt. 350

    Killington, Ltd. v. Lash, 153 Vt. 628

  2. Spot on, Mr. Klar!

    It’s puzzling that legislators would be afforded what amounts to “attorney-client privilege” to keep their communication with the OLC private. This begs the pregnant question – what are they afraid of? They are not on trial here, and in fact already enjoy legislative immunity and protections in their deliberations that the rest of us don’t. So why is their communication with OLC not public record? Isn’t full public transparency and accountability a principle tenet of liberalism?

    The drafting of legislation should be one of the most publicly transparent duties of a legislator. Since the ramifications of a misplaced word or a false premise or unsound reasoning (or something more… malevolent…) could literally put a man in jail, there should be no limits placed on public record requests of all aspects of the legislative drafting process – from inception of an idea to the final statute.

    Of course, it doesn’t help that in Phil Scott we have an illiberal Governor who has (embarrassingly) oft-demonstrated that he doesn’t know his arse from his elbow when it comes to the solemn duty of protecting our Constitutions.

  3. Citizens who work are paid for their effort, their skills, their knowledge, their reliability,
    not by the color of their epidermus.

    Every one who skips High School , and has a sketchy work record will have a lower income than those who are fully dedicated to earning a living. Ommiting the Pandemic experience, it is right that those who work should have better income than those who don’t.

    Bare statistics, without standards, can tell any story the teller wants to tell

  4. Right on the mark, John! I voted against H. 210 for some of the reasons you cite.

    You might add the bill to change the charter of the town of Brattleboro, which allows 16 year olds to vote, to this list. During floor debate on this bill I read from the state constitution that says you must be 18 to vote. Their answer was that was changed in the past. We need legal help working for us during the session.

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