Over the past week or so, Vermont’s political bubble has shown two things very clearly — this is a small state and potential conflicts of interest abound.
The Vermont GOP cried foul when Gov. Peter Shumlin appointed Alyssa Schuren, deputy commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, to replace David Mears in the top spot. The conflict that sparked outrage from the Republican ranks? Schuren is married to Paul Burns, the executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Burns’ organization frequently advocates and lobbies the DEC on environmental issues.
Democrats were quick to respond. They called the GOP charges “sexist,” leveled simply because Schuren is a woman. And they pointed to stories by the Vermont Press Bureau and VTDigger that highlighted Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott’s construction company netting about $3.8 million in state contracts since he was first elected to the Senate in 2001.
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