Campaign Finance

According to campaign finance disclosures, Republican Gov. Phil Scott has raised more than twice as much money toward his 2018 reelection bid than any of the other four candidates challenging him for the office.
Jeb Wallace-Brodeur / The Times Argus

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott, a first-term Republican, has raised more than $120,000 toward his reelection campaign, according to the first campaign finance disclosures since last July.

Kathleen Masterson / VPR

Bob Sherman knows his way around Vermont politics better than most. And when the retired Montpelier lobbyist decided he wanted to give Sue Minter a lift in her bid for the Democratic nomination for governor, he decided start super PAC.

All four declared candidates for governor posted big fundraising hauls Tuesday, the first reporting deadline since last July, in what is likely to be the most expensive gubernatorial race in state history.

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.

A federal judge has upheld the constitutionality of the Vermont law that governs publicly financed political campaigns. But the candidate who challenged the statute says the ruling is bad news for people who care about public financing.

Michael Dwyer / AP

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has exceeded his fundraising goals for the first few months of his campaign.

Angela Evancie / VPR File Photo

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne voluntarily disclosed his personal financial information Thursday, despite Vermont’s lack of financial disclosure laws for politicians. Milne released his 2012 and 2013 tax returns and a completed “Ethics in Government Act Financial Disclosure Statement,” which is required for members of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Dean Corren’s media blitz is in full swing in October, as the Progressive/Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor’s $34,500 in media buys this month more than quadruple his previous spending. But the big increase doesn’t push Corren past incumbent Phil Scott, who dropped $50,000 this month for media help from Hen House Media in Williston.

Angela Evancie / VPR File

Political campaigns in this state are almost always funded by private money. Figuring out where exactly the cash is coming from, however, can be difficult.

Unlike federal elections statutes, which require major contributors to list the businesses they might represent, Vermont mandates no such disclosures. So VPR decided to dig in to the numbers.

Progressive Dean Corren has a hefty financial advantage over incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. In down-ticket races, incumbents face few challenges - but that doesn't mean they're not spending thousands to campaign.

Whatever disadvantages Progressive candidate Dean Corren has in challenging well-known Republican incumbent Phil Scott, money is not one of them. Of all statewide candidates outside the gubernatorial race, Corren – who is using public financing for his campaign – is the only one who has a six-figure campaign fund.

With $192,035 remaining of his $200,000 in public financing, Corren’s campaign account has a hefty lead over Scott’s $33,049. Scott, on the other hand, has far outspent Corren so far in the race – Scott has spent $27,998 to Corren’s $7,965.

If money really does talk, there were a whole lot of Americans last week who felt their voices weren’t being heard.
 

That’s because the Supreme Court’s decision in the McCutcheon case opened the door for wealthy individuals to give campaign contributions to as many candidates as they choose without being subject to an aggregate limit.

Kheng ho Toh / Thinkstock

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling  in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission struck down aggregate limits on political contributions in federal elections, but it also had an effect on Vermont's months-old campaign finance law.

A new campaign finance bill that would regulate contributions for state and local officials seems likely to pass after a conference committee merged differing legislation from the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Critics say the bill allows more money into Vermont’s politics, a reality proponents say will keep money from independent expenditure political action committees, better known as Super PACs, from drowning out political parties.

Lawmakers have reached a deal that would raise campaign contribution limits to statewide political candidates and allow unlimited contributions from political parties to candidates.

Under proposed campaign finance legislation, all candidates would face increased reporting requirements for their campaign funds, but some would be able to collect more money from individual sources.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell announced a $30,000 settlement with the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Tuesday over alleged campaign finance violations related to the 2010 gubernatorial election.

AP/Alex Brandon

The U.S. Supreme Court opened its new session on the first of October, per usual. Among the cases it will consider this session is one about the limits that can or can’t be put on campaign finances.

Vermonters will remember that a state law about that issue was also heard and struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2006.

Vermont Law School professor Cheryl Hanna talked with Vermont Edition about the daylight between those two cases, and what the implications are for money and elections.

Political leaders came into the 2013 session seeming to outdo each other with promises for election finance reform.

They leave Montpelier with the House and Senate in a stalemate over campaign legislation and the bill dead for the year.

Secretary of State Jim Condos, was frustrated by the political gridlock.

“I think the real loser here is Vermont’s citizens and voters in this state, because what this bill is really about was accountability and transparency,” he said.

Despite the threat of a federal lawsuit, the House passed legislation on Wednesday that would cap donations to political action groups known as “Super PACs.” In a lengthy floor debate, House members said many Vermont voters are disillusioned with how much money pours into politics – at the state and federal level.

House Speaker Shap Smith said his constituents’ concerns have largely revolved around Super PACs, which aim to control the message in political campaigns.

A key panel is sending to the House floor legislation that would require labels on genetically modified food sold in Vermont.

The House Judiciary Committee voted, 7-4, on Tuesday to advance a bill that would prohibit the use of the term “natural” on the labels of foods, while exempting meat and dairy that has been fed genetically engineered grains.

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