Contact: David Sunderland, VT Republican Chair
Date: November 21, 2014

Did Governor Shumlin Learn Anything from Vermont’s November 4th Election?

Montpelier, VT – Just 17 days ago, Vermonters sent a loud and clear message to Governor Shumlin and the Democrat controlled legislature in Montpelier — they cast their votes for change. Vermonters demanded accountability, transparency and sound financial stewardship from their state government.

Within days of the election, it was revealed that a consultant hired by the Shumlin administration was given a contract costing taxpayers $400,000, ostensibly to help struggling Democrats in Montpelier turn our healthcare system on its head and raise $2.5 BILLION in taxes for Governor Shumlin’s secret health care scheme. The financing plan was required by law to be submitted to the legislature in January of 2013 and is now nearly two years late.

Governor Shumlin’s choice to help with this plan — MIT Professor Jonathan Gruber — has been thrust into the national spotlight with his statements about the level of intentional deception necessary to get the national Affordable Care Act through the US Congress. Mr. Gruber, in fact, was caught on video tape saying that the Affordable Care Act was enacted, at least in part, because of “the stupidity of the American voter.” He has also been captured on videotape saying that a “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”

What is most stunning — particularly given that more than 53% of Vermonters voted against him and few approve of the way he is doing his job — is that Governor Shumlin has again shown his callousness toward Vermont voters. Did he not hear the demand for real change, accountability and transparency? Apparently not.

If Governor Shumlin had heard Vermonters on Election Day, he would have terminated Mr. Gruber’s contract immediately after hearing his arrogant disdain for Vermonters and the political deception he embraced — instead of waiting until public outraged demanded it and left him no option. He would have immediately and openly disclosed all contractual documents and all work product associated with Mr. Gruber. He would have held a press conference explaining how he got Vermont into this mess and what he was going to do to correct it. He would have taken a position of strong leadership and transparency and immediately — and voluntarily — disclosed why Mr. Gruber was hired, if the process has been open and transparent, how his $400,000 taxpayer dollar contract was justified and then revealed all internal and external communications from himself and members of his staff with Mr. Gruber. THAT would be the type of gubernatorial leadership Vermonters deserve.

Likewise, leaders of the Democrat legislative majority — whose job it is to provide a check-and-balance on the executive branch of government — should have immediately demanded that swift and decisive action be taken to distance our state from a person who could utter such disrespect for Americans, including Vermonters.

In the several days since this news came to light, there has been no such accountability demanded from House Speaker Shap Smith, Senate President Pro-Tem John Campbell or any Democrat leader from any House or Senate Committee connected to Governor Shumlin’s single payer healthcare plan.

Fortunately, the House Republican Caucus, including three vigilant and watchful Republican leaders demanded action. Rep. Kurt Wright – Burlington, Rep. Heidi Scheuermann – Stowe, and Rep. Patti Komline – Dorset sent a letter to the Governor demanding accountability. They asked that Mr. Gruber be immediately fired. Given his appalling statements, we believe most Vermonters agreed with Reps. Wright, Scheuermann and Komline. Finally — and only after days of more and more shocking statements by and about Mr. Gruber — Governor Shumlin reacted. A decision ONCE AGAIN guided more by his political interest than the public interest.

While yielding to public demands and renegotiating Mr. Gruber’s contract was a step in the right direction, it is disturbing AND UNACCEPTABLE that Mr. Gruber’s consulting firm will still be working on the project for Vermont — and still collecting tax dollars while serving under his direction. This is not what Vermonters want and expect. Instead, Governor Shumlin should follow these clear and plain steps to demonstrate he is fully listening to Vermonters and is finally transforming into a transparent and responsive servant of Vermonters.

  • Immediately release all internal and external communications to, from and about Mr. Gruber, his work and his consulting firm.
  • Immediately terminate any and all remaining ties to Mr. Gruber’s firm, any subsidiaries of that firm and Mr. Gruber himself.
  • Immediately release all work product generated by Mr. Gruber and/or his firm. This work was generously paid for with tax dollars and should be available to Vermont taxpayers for review without delay.
  • Immediately provide the detailed invoice data provided by Mr. Gruber and/or his consulting firm that was required by his contract.
    • Provide clear connections between the work product generated and the payment for services to produce that work product.
  • Immediately disclose any and all other non-contractual work product, advice or guidance offered or suggested by Mr. Gruber, his firm or any subsidiaries of that firm to Governor Shumlin or any members of his staff or the Vermont state legislature.

The even larger question remains — Was Governor Shumlin really listening on election night? Did he hear what Vermonters were saying with their votes? Will he ignore their clear and straightforward message? Or, has he chosen to ignore Vermonters and continue on his current path of opaque government that puts politics and personal gain over the good of Vermonters? His actions over the next few days speak volumes — PETER SHUMLIN IS PETER SHUMLIN.

Vermonters demanded change on Election Day. Governor Shumlin is giving us more of the same.