The New Left’s preoccupation with identity politics seems not yet to have grappled with the likes of Peter Welch, the poster boy for white-old-man elitist rhetoric. Perhaps Vermont’s Democrats simply pray that if they hold their collective political breath, voters won’t notice the stark contrast between calls for electing a woman to the United States House based solely on her gender, and the quiet acceptance of the white-privileged Kingpin Peter Welch.
Surely, any sensible adult understands that merit outweighs genetics, and that old white people like Peter should not be misjudged by virtue (vice?) of their pale complexion. Yet, Congressman Welch has a clear record that can be assessed independently of his “political identity slot,” and there is much there to merit concern.
Peter Welch is the quintessential flatlander (born in Springfield, Mass; law school at Berkeley, California) who unpacked his carpetbags to create a lucrative-if-shameless political career via exploitation of the Green Mountain State. With eight years in the state senate, a run for Governor, and eight terms in the United States House, Mr. Welch is not merely a career politician in a time when Americans of all parties are calling for term limits: he is a very wealthy one (net worth estimated at $5,114,048.50) who appears to have increased that wealth through his political power.
I say “appears,” because it is axiomatic that even appearances of conflict are damaging to lawyers, doctors, and yes — politicians. This is why it would be better if millionaire Wall Street investors like Peter Welch simply did not own private securities while serving in an office, and on influential committees, as an elected representative. Yet Peter Welch has (until very recently, having “appeared” to have benefitted from insider stock trades) opposed efforts to prohibit such holdings.
Bad enough that Representative Welch “appears” to have profited financially from stock trades, but those appearances are associated with some of the most foul corruption in our nation — Wall Street bailouts; pharmaceutical fraud; profiting from COVID while Americans died. (As I say, these are merely “appearances”).
One of Mr. Welch’s more prominent appearances of impropriety occurred relative to the opioid crisis.
“U.S. Rep. Peter Welch was heavily invested in the health care industry as he worked to pass a bill championed by powerful health care companies, including ones in which the Vermont Democrat had a financial stake,” reporter Jasper Craven reported in 2018.
The report went on ton note “Welch had received $79,000 in campaign contributions from companies that backed the measure. He also had bought and sold between $215,000 and $550,000 in Rite Aid stock as the legislation moved through Congress. According to federal lobbying disclosures, Rite Aid invested significant lobbying resources in support of the measure between 2014 and 2016.”
Interestingly, it appears that Mr. Welch is still favored by Rite-Aid Corporation, who reportedly donated $1,000 toward his current $2,172,789 bankroll for his U.S. Senate run. Home Depot gave $5,000, Best Buy$3,500; plus $10,000 from “agribusiness” and $6,500 from chemical businesses.
Back in 2018, Welch shrugged off complaints about the cloud of trust created over his stock trades, and pleaded innocence:, saying he did not support a ban on stock trading and that public disclosure is all that’s required.
In view of recent friction over increased national debt, Mr. Welch’s pork-belly past is apposite. In a 2013 press release Citizens Against Government Waste wrote: “For demanding that Congress be allowed to continue ignoring its massive spending problem and for advocating unilateral executive power over borrowing, Rep. Peter Welch is CAGW’s January 2013 Porker of the Month.”
But like all moral hazards, Peter Welch has been encouraged to continue his shady “appearances” without consequence, and still brazenly run as a person with “Vermonters’ interests” in mind. There is no shame, or else just no expectation that voters will ever look up long enough to demand accountability.
That time is 2020. Just last year, Peter Welch appears to have profited on inside information about the impending chaos of COVID-19, yet says he was unaware of the stock purchase. Most Vermonters do not have the privilege of owning stocks, but those who do generally know what shares are being purchased before authorization — Peter’s a pretty Big Wig indeed if he just has his “financial advisors” choose individual stocks (as opposed to mutual or other blended funds) for him. It stretches credulity to claim he was unaware — but apparently not to Dems, who put those “Hear No Evil” earmuffs on so easily these days.
Here is what voters hear: “Rep. Peter Welch purchased more than $7,500 worth of stock in Qiagen, a German diagnostics company that produces COVID-19 tests and, in the midst of a global economic meltdown, has been a rare company with a rising stock value,” VTDigger reported. Welch said an investment advisor made the purchase and that he had “no knowledge of the purchase.”
Can Peter yet again dodge any responsibility for tarnished appearances by presuming an eternal cognitive dissonance by Vermont voters? Because those appearances appear mighty sketchy. VTDigger reports: “In 2019 alone, Welch purchased between $16,000 and $240,000 in investments including stocks in companies like General Mills. … Welch, whose work on the House Committee on Energy and Commerce often involves oversight into technology and consumer goods, has also invested in a number of tech and consumer goods companies, including Orbotech, Church & Dwight, and Mitek Systems.”
The solution is for elected officials to divest from securities that could possibly even appear to create a conflict of interest.
It does not appear that the Vermont Democratic Party cares one whit whether wily Welch is honest — he is their old, white, male, elite, privileged, millionaire, insider-trading, flatlander-claiming-to-speak-for-Vermonters poster-boy for shameless hypocrisy. How could they possibly permit race, gender, or heterosexuality to intrude on that appearance? But if Peter Welch were a gay, transgender BIPOC, he’d stillappear to be an elitist, opportunistic crook.
John Klar is an attorney and farmer residing in Brookfield. © Copyright True North Reports 2021. All rights reserved.