A former George W. Bush appointee has launched a smear campaign against Bernie Sanders in Vermont — although the Senator is not up for reelection this year and has not yet formally announced his intention to run for the Democratic nomination in 2016.
Shelburne businessman Skip Vallee paid for the ad which is to begin airing this week in Vermont, calling Sanders a hypocrite for criticizing golden parachutes for corporate CEOs that run in the tens of millions of dollars while his wife accepted a $200,000 package when she left her position as president of Burlington College in 2012.
Vallee and Sanders have been feuding for some time, with Vallee calling Sanders’ criticism of him for price gouging in his gasoline businesses unfair. He claims that his prices are higher because his competitors are selling their gas at cost or even at a loss.
In the ad, the narrator says of Sanders’ wife Jane:
“When she left the faltering and cash-strapped Burlington college in 2012, she took $200,000 with her; that’s almost four times what the average Vermont household makes in a year.”
Vallee spent $10,000 on air time On WCAX, saying that he wants people to call Senator Sanders and demand that Jane Sanders return the money to the school since her husband is opposed to the practice.
“Bernie has consistently said that these golden parachutes should not be allowed to happen and I think he should back up his rhetoric and give the money back,” Vallee said. “There’s no question that this is the ultimate of hypocrisy.”
Under Bush Vallee was ambassador to Slovakia from 2005 to 2007.
Senator Sanders has not personally replied to the claims made by Vallee in the ad but his office issued a statement saying:
“Bernie Sanders will not be intimidated by a millionaire who has crawled into the gutter and bought TV ads attacking Bernie’s wife for a sabbatical she earned from a college where she was president for seven years. What this is all about is not complicated. Skip Vallee has ripped off customers for years at his Burlington-area gas stations that sell the highest-priced gas anywhere in Vermont.As of Wednesday, his gas stations in the Burlington area were charging 25-cents more a gallon than his station in Middlebury. His padded profit margins consistently have put northwestern Vermont among the most expensive places in all of America to buy gas. Vallee clearly doesn’t like it that Bernie has exposed his ripoffs. He clearly doesn’t like it that other Vermont leaders are joining Bernie’s calls for real competition. So instead of treating his Vermont customers fairly, this junior varsity version of the Koch brothers is dipping into his fortune to bankroll a smear ad campaign. How pathetic.”
Watch the ad in the video below: