Identifying the Most Corrupt City in Vermont

Vermont, known for its stunning landscapes, progressive politics, and low crime, has a hidden underbelly of corruption that has haunted the state for years.

According to a recent Best Life investigation, Vermont is the most corrupt state in the United States, with a perfect Corruption Index Score of 100 out of 100.

This score is based on a number of factors, including the per capita count of public corruption convictions, reported violations by medical providers, the effectiveness of the state’s anti-corruption policies, and the state’s overall integrity rating.

About Burlington

One of the most notorious instances of corruption in Vermont occurs in Burlington, the state’s largest city and the home of Senator Bernie Sanders. Burlington has suffered a number of scandals over the years, including fraud, embezzlement, bribery, and nepotism.

Several significant people in the city’s history, including former mayor Gordon Paquette, ex-city councilor Kurt Wright, former police head Michael Schirling, and former developer Tony Pomerleau, have either been accused or convicted of corrupt actions.

Some Corruption Scandals In Vermont

One of the most heinous corruption scandals in Vermont’s history, and arguably the country’s, revolved around fraudulent activity under the EB-5 visa program in the Northeast Kingdom region, which included parts of Burlington.

Originally intended to strengthen the economy through investments by immigrant entrepreneurs leading to eventual green cards, the program resulted in claims against creators Ariel Quiros and Bill Stenger.

They were accused of misappropriating $200 million of the $350 million acquired from immigrant investors for visa-related projects such as a ski resort, a biotechnology park, and a hotel.

By 2016, the 400 investors in these unfinished projects hadn’t received their promised green cards. Quiros pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 2019 and is awaiting punishment, while Stenger is slated to go on trial in October 2021.

The EB-5 immigration program fraud was not the only incident that tarnished Burlington’s reputation. In 2018, the city’s electric department was accused of overbilling customers by $1.3 million over three years.

Despite the department’s head, Neale Lunderville, admitting to the error and apologizing, several consumers filed a class-action lawsuit alleging intentional and fraudulent overbilling.

In 2019, the city’s education district was found to have mismanaged funds, resulting in a $3.6 million deficit. Superintendent Yaw Obeng resigned amid the issue, and the state auditor’s office opened a probe into the district’s financial methods.

Corruption within Vermont’s Private Sector

Burlington’s corruption problem extends beyond the official sector and into the corporate sector. The city’s commercial sector has been involved in questionable activities, as evidenced by the sale of Burlington Telecom, the municipal broadband network.

In 2017, the city council agreed to sell the network to Schurz Communications, a private corporation based in Indiana, for $30.8 million.

Numerous locals and activists criticized the sale, arguing that the network should either stay publicly owned and operated or be transferred to a local cooperative.

The agreement was also marred by claims of conflicts of interest, since some municipal councilors were discovered to have ties to Schurz Communications person its local partner, ZRF Partners.


Despite Vermont’s serene reputation, a recent Corruption Index Score of 100 places it as the most corrupt state in the U.S. Burlington, the state’s largest city, grapples with a history of scandals involving fraud, embezzlement, and nepotism. From the EB-5 visa program fraud to controversies in the public and private sectors, corruption tarnishes Vermont’s image.


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