Vermont Candidates Report Campaign Finances Today

Mar 15, 2016

Tuesday, March 15 is the due date for campaign finance reports for all state political campaigns, including for gubernatorial candidates competing for Gov. Peter Shumlin's office, which he is vacating at the end of his term.

Here is what the reports show:

TD Donovan, Running For AG, Is Ready For (But Lacking) A Challenge

The lone announced candidate in the race for attorney general has amassed an impressive campaign war chest, according to a campaign finance disclosure submitted to the secretary of state this morning.

Chittenden County State’s Attorney TJ Donovan, a Democrat, has raised $228,000 since last July in his bid to replace outgoing incumbent Bill Sorrell.

“You always have to be prepared and there’s a ways to go before the (June) filing deadline, and you have to expect competition,” Donovan said Tuesday. “There’s an open seat for the first time in 20 years and I want to be prepared.”

Donovan has spent only about $45,000, and with his surplus carried over from his last campaign now has more than $200,000 cash on hand.

This year marks the first campaign cycle since lawmakers enacted legislation that raised the contribution limit for statewide offices from $2,000 to $4,000. Donovan’s filing suggests the change could have a significant impact on the size of the role money plays in Vermont politics.

Twenty of Donovan’s contributors have given the maximum donation, or very nearly reached it. That means that about 1.5 percent of Donovan’s 1,226 donors account for 35 percent of his total haul during the latest reporting period.

Donovan says he thinks the higher contribution limits are a negative development in Vermont politics. But he says running a competitive race requires candidates to seek resources by whatever legal means are available to them.  

“I think the state of Vermont has changed. I think there’s way too much money in Vermont state politics – that’s the reality,” Donovan said.

Donovan said he’d prefer to see the state adopt a system for publicly financed campaigns. He says the current public financing law, however, doesn’t come close to accommodating the realities of 21st century politicking.

Democratic candidate for governor Matt Dunne last week returned $16,000 from corporate entities that had donated to his campaign and swore off future contributions from corporations. He called on other candidates to follow suit.

Donovan said Dunne’s request might have carried more heft had he not waited until well into the cycle to issue the call. He said he’ll be following “the law of the land,” and is “happy for the support I receive from individuals and businesses and unions.”

The list of $4,000 donors include the Gill Law Firm in Washington, D.C. (the owner of the firm, Faisal Gill, gave an additional $1,000), real estate developer Bobby Miller, Boston-based Berylson Capital Partners, real estate developer Don Sinex, St. Johnsbury Subaru, St. Johnsbury Automobile Company, and Comcast Financial Agency Corporation.

Donovan says that 90 percent of his contributors are from Vermont.

This post will be updated as more reports are available.