Top Senate Republican Drafts Secret Plan To Oust McAllister

Nov 16, 2015

A resolution designed to oust Sen. Norm McAllister from the Senate has been drafted by a fellow Republican member of the body and is ready to be filed once Senate officials determine the legal avenues available to remove the senator.

Caledonia County Sen. Joe Benning, the Senate minority leader, said he has drafted a resolution to expel McAllister, the Franklin County senator who has been charged with several sex crimes. The 64-year-old McAllister was arrested at the Statehouse in May and stands accused of sexually assaulting three women, including a legislative intern who allegedly lived with him in Montpelier at times. He has pleaded not guilty to three felony and three misdemeanor charges, and his criminal case is pending.

Benning has publicly voiced his support for ousting McAllister. He also wrote a letter to McAllister last month urging McAllister to resign because his presence “will be extraordinarily uncomfortable for every individual in the building, including you.”

“You will be unable to fulfill your Senate responsibilities for your constituents. The Senate will be in complete disarray as your colleagues are subpoenaed into your trial,” Benning wrote.

McAllister has maintained his innocence and has said that he intends to take his place in the Senate when lawmakers reconvene for the second half of the biennium in January. McAllister, perhaps reinforcing that stand, appeared at the Statehouse Friday for a public service honoring the life of former Republican Lt. Gov. Barbara Snelling.

A person who answered the phone at McAllister’s home Monday said he was hunting and not available.

McAllister’s presence at the State House Friday appeared to go unnoticed by reporters covering the event. Benning, who saw McAllister at the service, said he did not attempt to speak to him.

“I did not pay any attention to what he was doing or who was talking to him,” Benning said.

Benning said he has drafted his resolution to expel McAllister but is awaiting word from the Senate Rules Committee about how to proceed. Senate Secretary John Bloomer, in anticipation of efforts to remove McAllister, has been investigating the options.

Benning declined to share a draft of his resolution with the Vermont Press Bureau Monday. He said it notes that McAllister has already been stripped of his committee assignments, putting Franklin County and the Republican caucus at a disadvantage.

“The main issue is that he has been removed from his committee assignments and that leaves my caucus without a vote and a voice,” Benning said.

The resolution includes some background on McAllister’s situation but does not focus on the criminal case, according to Benning.

“It really doesn’t have anything to do with his criminal case except to note that one has been filed and as a result, the trial is timed to be during the session, which will also deprive us of his services,” he said.

When the draft resolution will be signed and filed remains unclear. Benning said he plans to await further direction from Senate officials before determining his next step.

“When that decision is made I will probably have some more clarity,” Benning said. “It’s in kind of a holding pattern until senate rules decides how to proceed.”

This story was originally published by the Vermont Press Bureau and is republished here under a partnership with the bureau.