Statehouse Headliners: 31 Vermont candidates received money from pro-legalization group

By Guy Page

Thirty-one candidates and several political organizations received political contributions from the Marijuana Policy Project, a pro-legalization organization based in Washington, D.C., during the 2016 general election.

The donations totaled $15,750, according to a compiling of several Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) entries on the Vermont Secretary of State Campaign Finance page. During the 2018 session of the Vermont Legislature legalized recreational marijuana, virtually all of the recipients of MPP donations voted in support.

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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.

The MPP – whose slogan “We Change Laws” is listed below its name on its website – had gross receipts of $4.7 million in 2016, according to its IRS tax return. According to the Secretary of State’s Vermont lobbyist handbook, Its Vermont lobbyists include Matt Simon, who is listed as a West Virginia resident, and Adam Necrason, David Mickenberg, Jessica Oski, Rebecca Ramos, and Somer Brown of the Necrason Group.

A list of the 31 candidates – most of whom were elected in November, 2016 and served in the 2018 session – can be seen at the online Google spreadsheet prepared by State House Headliners: 2016 Vermont Election Donations by Marijuana Policy Project, Washington D.C. They include gubernatorial candidate Sue Minter, and several House and Senate committee and party leaders, including Democrat Rep. Sara Copeland-Hanzas of Bradford, Democrat Sen. Richard Sears of Bennington County, Progressive/Democrat Senate Pro Tem Tim Ashe of Chittenden County, and Republican Joe Benning of Caledonia County.

The largest donation went to Minter ($4,000). Several key senators received $500 donations, other senators received $250, and most representatives received $250 or $200. Rep. Copeland-Hanzas received $500, the most for any House member.

In the Vermont Legislature, political contributions are not considered likely to change a “no” vote to a “yes” or vice-versa. But they are considered a fairly reliable predictor about how a candidate is likely to vote. Lobby groups like the MPP generally contribute to known supporters of their legislative agendas.

MPP donations for 2018 election will be listed in upcoming issues of State House Headliners – as will donations made by several other pro-legalization organizations.

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 Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons and Page Communications

2 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: 31 Vermont candidates received money from pro-legalization group

  1. Always interesting arguments on why it’s a great idea to get stoned. Now of course in many instances this is nothing to be concerned about, no different than getting a good buzz. But this displays another troubling issue, that being outside forces trying to run our state vs. it’s citizens.

    Down playing the $200 given to candidates if off base, ask Republicans if they get support from the Vermont Republican Party, let me know the answer, we know what we’ve been told. We another party even requested to the Governor that the Republican Party support some key candidates, that are really good men and women, otherwise we’re about to get really expensive if we have majorities in house and senate, balance would be a good thing.

    We’ve had PAC’s ask us to do surveys with the promise of money. We refused to take money or be played by their leading questions. We want to Tax PAC money and out of state lobbyist money heavily, they can’t vote, they shouldn’t be trying to run our elections and corporations aren’t people.

    Judging from all the commercials at movie theatres, people clearly know Pot is troublesome for youth. It’s not good for kids. It’s not good for the genetic code men supply in procreation, nor is good for pregnant and lactating women. If you look in other sections of society that have embrace pot with a bear hug you’ll find the same issues we find in our DCF. Check it out….it’s a problem.

    Vermont does have a drug problem, our Governor was correct in bringing this up last session, it would have been nice if others in Montpelier followed his lead on this.

    Neil Johnson, Candidate Washington-7 House, Gr33n Mountain Party.

  2. I don’t agree with parts of the MPP platform and I don’t receive campaign donations from them but cannabis legalization in all 50 states will happen and should, there are way to many benefits that the plant provides to have otherwise.

    First and foremost: liberty and responsibility

    Everyone should have the right to grow, produce, consume or say what they want, that’s the Liberty part; if they impede on someone else’s rights, murder, steal, or damage another person or their property they’re held responsible.

    I do not understand why True North is hung up on the drug laws when you all are great when it comes to other liberty issues.

    I am currently running for State Senate in Windham County, Vermont

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