Bill Sorrell

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Tobacco stance puts Sorrell on list of bad AGs


illiam Sorrell is among the worst attorneys general in the United States, according to a report from the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Sorrell has received a fair amount of scrutiny of late, following a deep-dig story from Paul Heintz of Seven Days which uncovered a number of emails that indicate the possibility of campaign finance violations. Heintz’s investigation of Sorrell followed an investigation by Sorrell into the campaign of Dean Corren, a progressive who ran for lieutenant governor in 2014. Following Heintz’s story, Sorrell — who is tasked with investigating campaign finance violations — declined to investigate himself, saying he knew he hadn’t done anything wrong. This apparent conflict of interest led Gov. Peter Shumlin to appoint an independent investigator to look into Sorrell’s campaign finance practices, and has led Sen. Anthony Pollina to call for the creation of an ethics commission. Continue Reading →

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Corren considers second run for lieutenant governor

Dean Corren (photo courtesy of VPR)

MONTPELIER — Progressive Dean Corren says he is weighing a second bid for lieutenant governor in the 2016 election but will only do so if a case involving his last campaign and the state’s public financing for candidates is resolved in time. Corren, a former state representative from Burlington, fared poorly in his 2014 bid to unseat Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. Scott received 62.1 percent of the vote to Corren’s 36 percent. Scott is now considering a run for governor in 2016 after Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin announced in June that he would not seek a fourth, two-year term. Corren said he is considering a second run for the number two spot. Continue Reading →

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T.J. Donovan to run for AG

MONTPELIER — Chittenden County State’s Attorney T.J. Donovan says he will run for attorney general regardless of whether longtime incumbent Bill Sorrell decides to seek re-election. Donovan, 41, came close to knocking off Sorrell in a 2012 Democratic primary for the state’s top law enforcement position. Donovan lost to Sorrell, who was appointed to the position in 1997 by former Gov. Howard Dean and has won re-election each cycle since, by just 714 votes. Donovan opted to sit out the 2014 race and instead concentrated on his work in Chittenden County. That work has garnered plenty of attention statewide and has served, in some cases, as pilot projects for the state. Continue Reading →

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Sorrell outlines state’s GMO case for lawmakers

MONTPELIER — Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell told the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday that he expects a judge to rule on dueling motions in the GMO labeling case within the next three months, which will help lay out a path for the rest of the case. A host of food industry groups filed suit last year against the state’s GMO labeling law, set to take effect July 1, 2016, claiming it is unconstitutional. Sorrell briefed the committee Wednesday on the status of the case. The plaintiffs have asked the judge for a summary judgment, claiming the state is restricting their free speech rights by forcing them to label products that contain GMOs. They also claim the state cannot prevent them from calling a product natural if it contains GMOs. Continue Reading →

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Vermont calls more GMO hearings, extends comment deadline

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — The Vermont Attorney General’s office is calling a second public hearing on the state’s rules to implement the ban on genetically modified organisms.

In addition to the second hearing scheduled for Feb. 4 at the Vermont Statehouse, the state has extended by two weeks the deadline for submitting written comments on the proposed rules. The new deadline for written comments is Feb. 12. Continue Reading →

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Vermont to add enforcement to Lake Champlain cleanup tools

ST. ALBANS, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s top officials say legal enforcement of water quality rules on the state’s farmers is going to be one of the tools that will be used to help clean up Lake Champlain. The enforcement could include civil fines, a loss of tax breaks for agricultural lands and the ability to limit livestock. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Ross, Attorney General Bill Sorrell and others outlined the steps Monday during a meeting in St. Continue Reading →

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Shumlin, Milne and Sorrell secure nominations

MONTPELIER — Tuesday’s primary was marked by low voter turnout and slow, tedious counting by election officials as they sorted through many ballots with write in votes. Few Vermonters exercised their right to vote in the state’s primary Tuesday in which candidates looked to secure their party’s nominations for the general election in November. Clerks around the state reported a paltry showing from voters. Most town and city clerks were expected to be counting and tallying results late into the night, well past deadline, thanks to aggressive write in campaigns waged by Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Dan Feliciano and Dean Corren, a Progressive running for lieutenant governor. On the GOP ballot, gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne was declared the winner by the Associated Press just after 8 p.m. He defeated Republicans Emily Peyton and Steve Berry, and fended off the write in challenge by Feliciano. Continue Reading →

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Vermont to recover millions in tobacco settlement

MONTPELIER — The state will receive $14 million in civil penalties and legal relief from tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds following a 2005 lawsuit, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced Monday. The state sued the company over unsubstantiated advertising claims about the health consequences of one of its products. A trial court ruled in 2010 that the company did not conduct sufficient scientific studies to support an advertising claim that a non-traditional cigarette, known as Eclipse, would reduce a smoker’s chance of developing cancer. The court awarded the state $8.3 million in civil penalties for the violations and issued a permanent injunction against Reynolds to prevent similar conduct in the future. The court was in the process of considering the State’s request for attorneys’ fees and costs incurred in the lawsuit when the parties reached a settlement, according to Sorrell. Continue Reading →

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Democratic PAC settles with state

MONTPELIER — A Democratic PAC must may a $30,000 penalty for violating the state’s campaign finance law during the 2010 election. Green Mountain Future, a political action committee created by the Democratic Governors Association has settled with the state for the $30,000 penalty, Vermont Attorney General William Sorrell announced Wednesday. The settlement, which has been approved by the Vermont Superior Court, requires GMF to pay the state a civil penalty of $20,000 for failing to include its address on its website or in television ads that ran during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. GMF must also pay a $10,000 penalty the court had previously imposed for not registering as a PAC and filing campaign finance reports. “Voters are legally entitled to know who is seeking to influence them,” Sorrell said a statement. Continue Reading →

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