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Plane and Not So Simple « P.15 on WCAX, WPTZ and Comcast channels, as well as full-page color ads in the Burlington Free Press. Pomerleau and GBIC together laid out an estimated $23,000 for a chartered plane to fly Shumlin and the mayors of Burlington and Winooski to Florida a year ago so they could listen to the noise made by F-35s on test-run takeoffs. All parties on that trip reported afterward that the plane’s roar had been within tolerable limits. Pomerleau won’t reveal how much he gave the Green Ribbons initiative or how much he spent overall to help bring the F-35 to the Burlington air base. “I’m not going to say,” he replied in response to a question from Seven Days.. “There’s no reason why I should.” Cioffi proved almost as closedmouthed when asked to specify what GBIC spent on the Green Ribbons campaign. He set the figure at “several thousand dollars” but said he did not recall the precise total. A portion of the F-35 advocacy outlays by Cioffi’s group went to finance a Friends of the Air Guard campaign that ran parallel to and separately from Citro’s Green Ribbons drive. Cioffi does F RANK say that about 30 percent of his time at GBIC over the past two-plus years was spent on boosting the F-35. An assistant at Cioffi’s partly public, partly private organization devoted about 40 percent of his time during the same period to the plane campaign. In addition, GBIC contracted with a writer-researcher for a one-year period to work exclusively on F-35 matters. Personnel resources devoted to the pro-F-35 effort — by the state congressional delegations’ staff as well as by workers at business-promotion groups — should also be factored into any computation of the cost of the Burlington basing efforts, Fleckenstein argues. But the financing of the local campaigns to bring F-35s to Vermont will likely remain opaque. Citro didn’t do the legal work that would have been required to establish her campaign as a nonprofit organization. Acting on what she says was the advice of her accountant, Citro decided that filing incorporation papers with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office “didn’t seem worth it because of the time it would take to go through that whole process.”
Instead, she says, “I’ve been keeping very detailed records for my own tax return” in regard to money she collected and spent in the name of the Green Ribbons campaign. But the public won’t have access to Citro’s personal tax returns, while it would have been able to review at least some of the donations and expenditures for the pro-F-35 effort if the campaign were to file the 990 IRS form that nonprofit organizations are required to submit annually. The Stop the F-35 Coalition has a different arrangement: It’s an affiliate of Burlington’s Peace & Justice Center, notes activist Eileen Andreoli, which places it under the umbrella of a nonprofit. But that doesn’t mean journalists or members of the public can see its basic financal data on the PJC’s tax return; the IRS form doesn’t require enough detail to reveal each affilate organization’s separate finances. In the interest of transparency, Bourassa said he’d be “perfectly willing to sit down with any journalist” to go over the Stop the F-35 Coalition’s payables and receivables. Bourassa says that so far this year it had raised $27,620 CIOF F I from about 200 donors, $21,000 of which went to pay legal fees. The largest donor — who asked to remain anonymous — gave $12,000 in cash and paid $8000 to improve the organization’s website, Bourassa reports. Another contributor stopped gifting the Vermont Democratic Party to the tune of $100 a month and now instead sends that sum to the coalition, Bourassa adds. He says he doesn’t know the names of the many individuals who put small bills into a bucket that the coalition passed around at its events. Ice cream tycoon Ben Cohen says he gave the coalition “around $12,000 or $15,000”— a sum that included the cost of the massive sound system the plane’s opponents rigged in City Hall Park this summer to simulate the roar of an F-35 takeoff. And the Stop the F-35 Coalition isn’t giving up — at least not in terms of getting its message out, which Andreoli says has consistently been, “Love the Guard, hate the plane.” It’s aiming to raise another $75,000 in 2014.
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