The general election campaign is under way in Vermont and Democrats and their candidate for governor are slamming incumbent Governor Phil Scott for accepting donations from a pharmaceutical company. The first-term Republican’s campaign shot back that the challenger is being hypocritical and should instead focus on real issues.
Vermont Democrats and gubernatorial primary winner Christine Hallquist gathered on the statehouse steps in Montpelier this week to question why her opponent is accepting campaign contributions from a pharmaceutical company that they claim is a major factor in causing the opioid crisis.
Party Chair Terje Anderson says he is a recovering post-surgical heroin addict and is appalled that the governor has accepted money from Purdue Pharmaceuticals. He claims Scott’s campaign attempted to disguise the donation by reporting the company only as Purdue. “They got thousands and thousands of Americans addicted to opiates and the blood is on their hands. I don’t know why Governor Scott would accept money from a company like this. He might as well accept money from a drug dealer on the corner.”
Former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Brenda Siegel made the opioid epidemic a key issue in her campaign. She says the Purdue Pharma contribution indicates that the Republican governor is taking care of big business rather than Vermonters’ needs. “We have an epidemic in this state. Overdose death is increasing. Big money will prevent and has prevented Phil Scott from doing what is necessary to stop death and collateral damage in this state.”
Democratic candidate Hallquist: “Follow the money. Follow the money tells you what a person’s values are. The reality is if you’re taking money from Purdue Pharma I think it’s bad.”
When pressed that the Democratic Governors Association has accepted money from pharmaceutical manufacturers and Democratic Congressman Peter Welch has come under fire regarding pharma policies, both Hallquist and Anderson deflected.
Hallquist: “I’ll keep that in the curiosity space. I don’t you know I I’m certainly focused on Vermont politics and I’m certainly focused on my own and and Vermont Democratic Party’s ethics moving forward.”
Anderson: “Let me also add Peter Welch hasn’t taken a penny of corporate money. In terms of the DGA the DGA hasn’t spent a penny on this race and we we we don’t think they’re going to.”
Governor Scott’s campaign manager Brittney Wilson says the opiate epidemic is a top public policy crisis and Democrats are using it in a petty political attack. “This has been a bipartisan issue for years and by throwing cheap political attacks out it’s really undermining the work that we’ve done. And it’s also deeply hypocritical as the Democratic Party, their elected officials and PACs that they accept money from have also received pharmaceutical money. And I think that it just couldn’t be more clear that this is a political attack to try and gain some points.”
Donations to and spending by the candidates are outlined in reports posted on the Vermont Secretary of State’s website. In the August 15th report Purdue had donated $1,000 to the Scott campaign.