State Headliners: Facebook, Google contribute to AG Donovan, legislators get money from GunSense

By Guy Page

Two internet giants have donated to the re-election campaign of Vermont Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

According to the Vermont Secretary of State campaign finance page, Facebook, of Menlo Park, CA, donated $4,080 during the reporting period ending on September 1, 2018. Google, of Mountain View, CA donated $3,000 on June 25, 2018. Neither Facebook nor Google made any other Vermont political contributions.

It’s hard to know for sure why Google (valued at $279 billion) and Facebook ($138 billion) would bother with a chump change donation to an elected official in a small state like Vermont.

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Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership, the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare, and Physicians, Families & Friends for a Better Vermont.

For Facebook, it could possibly be related to the March 26, 2018 letter Donovan and 36 other state’s attorneys sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that began, “the undersigned State and Territory Attorneys General are profoundly concerned about the recently published reports that personal user information from Facebook profiles was provided to third parties without the users’ knowledge or consent.” The letter was addressing the Cambridge Analytica scandal, in which a Facebook vendor reportedly provided Google-derived personal data to the Trump presidential campaign.

As for Google – AG Donovan has continued work begun by his predecessor, William Sorrell, flagging Google sales of advertising to unlicensed lenders. Also, at Donovan’s direction Google was ordered by Vermont Superior Court in September, 2017 to comply with search warrants to search computers for files related to sexual exploitation of children. In January 2018, a 2016 letter from Google notifying Vermonters about security breaches was posted on the AG website.

At least three other large, out-of-state corporations selling products to Vermont consumers each made $2,000 contributions to the Donovan campaign: Aaron’s (rent to own furniture) of Atlanta, GA, Dish Network of Englewood, Colorado, and Coca-Cola of Atlanta, GA. Campaign contributions to date total $152,805, with most coming from Vermont individuals and organizations. Donovan faces Republican candidate Janssen Wilhoit (total to date: $8,777) in the November general election.

Other random, but interesting political contributions:

  • Patient Choices Vermont Victory Fund (supporters of ‘assisted suicide’): $250 to the Vermont Democratic Party.
  • GunSense Victory Fund ($6300, total): $300 each to state representatives Marcia L. Gardner (Chittenden 1), Jim McCullough (Chittenden 2), Cynthia Browning (Bennington 4), Edward Read (Washington 7), Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (Orange 2), and Tristan Toleno (Windham 2-3). $500 each went to state reps Maxine Grad (Washington 7), Tommy Walz (Washington 3), Mike Mrowicki (Windham 4), and Mitzi Johnson (Grand Isle). Sens. Ginny Lyons (Chittenden), Chris Pearson (Chittenden), and Anthony Pollina (Washington) also each received $500. AG Donovan received $1000.

Amish community growing in Northeast Kingdom – A small community of Amish families has been growing in the Northeast Kingdom town of Brownington since 2015. The families apparently were drawn by the town’s affordable, high-quality agricultural land. See Oct. 19 VT Digger for more details.

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Images courtesy of Flickr/ and Page Communications