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Petition Circulating To Oust State Senator

Norman McAllister
Vermont State Police
Norm McAllister

Franklin County Vermont state Senator Norm McAllister was arrested at the Statehouse in early May and charged with sexual assault, human trafficking and prohibited acts. The allegations include trading sex for rent payments.  A group of residents is now circulating a petition calling for his resignation.

The beleaguered Republican refused to resign after his arrest and legislative leaders stripped him of all his assignments.
Denise Smith is part of a group of St. Albans residents circulating a petition that calls for Senator McAllister’s immediate resignation because he has lost the public trust and is unable to perform the job duties he was elected to do.   “I can’t believe he hasn’t resigned yet. And I’m not sure if it’s because he doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong or the fact that he’s entitled to that seat?  I’m just beside myself that we’re sort-of at this point a month later from when he was arrested and we have recorded phone conversations and testimony and I don’t think he thinks he has to resign. It’s beyond me.”

Critics of the petition say it’s politically motivated.  Franklin County resident Judith McLaughlin says that’s ridiculous, pointing to herself as an example to refute the argument.   “My husband and I both voted for him and we followed the entire case.  I do believe in innocent until proven guilty. But to my mind he proved himself guilty by his own words when his victims called him and he was recorded. He has lost the trust of many people in this county. He’s just lost our trust.  If you’ve lost the trust of the people who voted for you then it takes integrity to step down. I don’t think he believes he’s done anything wrong. So he’s not listening.”

Vermont House Representative Kathy Keenan, a Democrat from St. Albans, believes it would be in the best interest of the county for McAllister to resign.   “Right now he has been stripped of his committee assignments and those positions reassigned to other legislators in the Senate. So there’s a bit of a lack of representation for our district. There’s really I think with a lot of people that I’ve spoken to they feel that we aren’t being adequately represented and won’t be. And it is a difficult situation all the way around. It is a complex situation because we don’t have anything statutorily that would address this type of a situation. So we are really stuck at this point.”

Many Vermonters say McAllister’s refusal to step down points to the need for an ethics code or commission.  Keenan agrees.  “We do need an ethics law. We did pass one over to the Senate a year ago and due to their schedule it wasn’t taken up. I think that it’s something that absolutely needs to be done and now is the time for everybody to have these kinds of laws in place. Just not particularly for this kind of situation but for any situation where there could be a cloud over anything.”

Contacted by WAMC Wednesday morning, Senator McAllister said he had no comment on the petition.  He has pleaded not guilty and was released on $20,000 bail in May.

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