Adam Necrason sitting on the right in the photo below runs Necrason Group, the lobbying group
working for GunsenseVT. GunsenseVT has not disclosed the source of their funding, which
includes $78,000.00 paid to Necrason for lobbying services between April and December, 2014.
That is addition to $25,000.00 in campaign contributions by GunsenseVT, a local unit, in a national
gun control campaign. This is on top of their advertising. Where does all of this money come from?
If Everytown for Gun Safety is pulling out of Vermont it comes right on the heels of their questionable
"spin" report of Internet sales of firearms. In which the antis defamed a Vermont gun shop as being
a bad actor. Another Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg gun control group caught in a sleazy act inflating
its numbers. Like in Concord, NH in 2013 naming Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsamaev killed, in a gun
battle with police, and many other violent criminals killed by good guys, as victims of gun violence
Lobby Hobby: Who's Spending Big on Vermont's Legislative Session?
Liberal activists weren't the only ones disappointed when Gov. Peter Shumlin reversed course in December and dropped his plan to create a single-payer health care system.
Vermont lobbyists and their far-flung funders had been gearing up for an epic â€" and profitable â€" fight over the $2 billion tax hike the governor was contemplating to finance the program. But within weeks of Shumlin's flip-flop, two union-backed special interest groups fighting for single-payer voted to suspend their operations.
"It became apparent we weren't going to be able to raise money," says Vermont Leads' departing executive director, Peter Sterling, whose organization was funded by the National Education Association.
Also calling it quits was Vermont Cure, founded last year by the Montpelier lobbying firm KSE Partners and largely funded by the American Federation of Teachers.
No doubt many more lobbyists were sorry to see the issue die before they could kill it.
But never fear, lobbyist friends. Even without single-payer on the table, your industry will surely survive â€" and thrive.
It always does.
Just last week, the Secretary of State's Office released new figures indicating that 339 businesses and nonprofits spent nearly $7.2 million last year lobbying Vermont lawmakers. Much of that â€" a little more than $5 million â€" went to the 55 registered lobbyists who work for Vermont's 20 lobbying firms.
So where are the lobbying bucks going this year?
Even without single-payer, health care reform remains a hot topic. The 0.7 percent payroll tax Shumlin proposed last month to reduce the Medicaid cost-shift is a fraction of the 8 to 11.5 percent payroll tax that would've been necessary to finance single-payer. But, hey, a tax is a tax â€" and many businesses will lobby against it.
Every year, trade groups representing Vermont's hospitals, dentists, primary care providers and nursing homes are among the top lobbyists in the Statehouse. Given the breadth of Shumlin's other health care initiatives, that's not likely to change this year.
More money will surely follow whichever hot-button issues appear to gain traction in the next couple weeks.
Last Friday, for example, the American Beverage Association bought its first full-page ad of the year in the Burlington Free Press, opposing a two-cents-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.
The ad buy was notable because, two years ago, the beverage industry spent $51,000 lobbying and $553,000 advertising against a similar proposal.
This time around, says MMR lobbyist Andrew MacLean, the industry expects to invest in newspaper, radio and social media ads opposing the tax.
While MacLean won't say how much his coalition expects to spend, he says he hopes to run a "more cost-effective" campaign.
On the opposite side, the Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security â€" Sterling's other group â€" is overseeing the fight to pass the sugar-sweetened beverage tax. The American Heart Association and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation have invested $150,000 in an "educational" campaign around the issue, according to in-house lobbyist Anthony Iarrapino, while the AHA has earmarked another $60,000 to directly lobby for the tax.
The pro-tax forces have engaged the Necrason Group as outside lobbyists and KSE Partners to run its social media campaign.
Another effort has also attracted out-of-state attention and dollars: mandatory background checks for gun buyers.
The New York-based gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety recently bought online ads from several Vermont news organizations â€" including Seven Days â€" to promote a new report on federal background checks. The group, founded and largely funded by the billionaire former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, has deployed two registered lobbyists to the state.
Everytown spokesman Jack Warner refuses to say how much his group has spent i n Vermont or whether it's financially backing its local ally, Gun Sense Vermont. The latter group, which won't disclose its funding sources, has also retained the Necrason Group.
Everytown might not be sticking around for long. According to sources familiar with the situation, the group is pulling up stakes in Vermont because it doesn't think a recently introduced bill goes far enough. Warner would not comment.
Opposing the bill are a number of gun rights groups organized under the umbrella group Vermont Federation of Sportsmen's Clubs. As a state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, they'll find support this session from the NRA's northeast lobbyist, Darin Goens, who says he's already visited Vermont twice this year.
Goens says the NRA has used its email lists to alert its Vermont members about the background check bill and may organize phone banks and send postcards to mobilize them. He says it's possible, but less likely, that the organization will buy advertising.
We won't know for sure until the end of April â€" just weeks before the end of the session â€" how much any of these groups has spent lobbying lawmakers. That's because they're only required to disclose such data three times a year: in April, July and January.
Sen. Anthony Pollina (P/D-Washington) hopes to change that. He plans to introduce legislation requiring those who lobby the legislature to report advertising expenditures in excess of $1,000 within a day or two of when they're made â€" much like in Vermont's electoral campaigns.
"If somebody is spending a lot of money to affect the legislative debate, people have a right to know who's behind those advertisements or media buys as quickly as possible," Pollina says.
Joining him in the effort is the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, whose executive director, Paul Burns, complains that "you really don't get a full accounting until the session has ended."
Burns would know. Last year, his organization spent $339,000 lobbying lawmakers â€" more than any other group in the state.