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Political notes from Free Press staff writers Terri Hallenbeck, Sam Hemingway and Nancy Remsen



So long, Chris

The other shoe in the Chris Graff saga finally fell today.

Graff, the longtime chief of the Associated Press bureau in Montpelier until he was unceremoniously fired six months ago by his bosses, has landed a job as the vice president of communications at National Life Insurance in Montpelier, replacing the retiring Brian Vachon.

It's one of the cushiest, and best-paying public relations jobs in Vermont, but Graff's decision to go to the dark side means he will be severing his ties with Vermont Public Television, where he has hosted the station's popular Vermont This Week program for 14 years.

Graff, in an e-mail to friends, said the decision to leave Vermont This Week at the end of the year was his and not the station's.

"I felt that my new responsibilities - and the huge learning curve I will face - would mean I would not be able to do justice to the show," he explained. "My thanks to everybody who has helped me through these past six months. My firing was a horrible experience but I was so blown away by the wonderful things people said about me and my work. I will treasure them forever."

Graff, you may recall, was shown the door in March when AP management concluded he engaged in a "grave violation of AP rules by putting an opinion piece penned by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., on the wire for member use. The subject of the Leahy op-ed piece, ironically, was freedom of the press and the public's right to know what is going on with their government.

-- Sam Hemingway

Everyone knew that Graff would land on his feet.

We'll miss seeing him on VT This Week.

(who'll sit in his chair? Mark Johnson? or Peter Freyne?)
His firing is one of the greatest ironies of democracy with close Vermont ties. Look out for more signs of our crumbling democratic republic. (Oh yeah, there's the presidential elections.)
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