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October 18, 2012

Reporter's Notebook: Trying — And Failing — To Photograph Lenore Broughton

FlagreaperThis week's issue of Seven Days has a story on Lenore Broughton, the mysterious Burlington woman who is bankrolling the conservative super PAC Vermonters First to the tune of $682,500 — singlehandedly boosting the electoral fortunes of two down-ticket Republicans and a selection of legislative candidates.

While we learned quite a bit more about Broughton's background than had previously been reported, we were not able to get a photograph of her. Broughton is notoriously private and would not agree to be interviewed for the story, much less photographed.

As the story notes, there doesn't appear to be a single picture of her anywhere on the web — a rarity in this digital age. (If you know of one, by all means, email us.)

On Tuesday, we tried — and failed — to capture the elusive GOP funder on film. This picture was pretty much all we managed to get (explanation below). Here's how it went down. 

Despite her aversion to publicity, Broughton sits on at least one public board: Burlington Telecom's Cable Advisory Council. Yesterday afternoon, the council held its bimonthly meeting in BT's offices on Church Street.

We sent photographer Matthew Thorsen to the meeting. When he got there, Thorsen says, two members of the board had already arrived, but not Broughton. They asked who he was and what he was doing there, and Thorsen says he replied that he was taking pictures for the paper. Broughton showed up a few minutes later, Thorsen says, and asked the same question. Thorsen repeated who he was, at which point, he says, Broughton said, "No, no," put her hands across her face and bolted from the building.

Thorsen said he felt bad for disrupting the board's meeting, and told the board chair he would leave if the they wanted to go retrieve Broughton to have the meeting. Thorsen left after that (what a polite guy, huh?). And according to BT's Amber Thibeault, Broughton came back and the meeting happened.

Guess we shoulda been a little more Paparazzi about it, eh?

The weird footnote to this story is that BT's meeting room is apparently chock full of Halloween decorations, including a fake-skull centerpiece on the conference table and the life-size, animatronic Grim Reaper pictured above, which Thorsen said was activated by his camera flash and started moving around and cackling demonically.

Considering the $17 million debt BT still owes Burlington taxpayers, you gotta wonder where they get the money for all this crap.

Photo credit: Matthew Thorsen

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