Vermont Democrats file complaint against political advocacy group

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February 29, 2012

By Lauren Rodgers

Vermont

MONTPELIER, VT: The Vermont Democratic Party filed a complaint with the state attorney general earlier this month, alleging the organization Campaign for Vermont violated election laws and "crossed the line from nonpartisan advocacy to political action"[1] when it aired a radio advertisement criticizing Gov. Peter Shumlin's position on property tax.

In a letter to Attorney General Bill Sorrell, the Executive Director of the Vermont Democratic Party charged that "On or about February 6, 2012, Campaign for Vermont ran radio advertisements for the purpose of influencing the upcoming governor's election and/or opposing the candidacy of Governor Shumlin. Upon information and belief, these radio advertisements involved contributions and expenditures in excess of $500.00"[2] The letter cited a recent decision in a Vermont Superior Court case wherein Judge Geoffrey Crawford held that an advertisement that costs more than $500.00 and run within a year of an election that refers to a particular candidate "triggers political committee status."[2] Vermont Democratic Party Chairman Jake Perkinson argued Campaign for Vermont should have filed with the state as a political action committee, which would require the group to disclose both the source of any financial contributions it receives and how it spends the money.

Bruce Lisman, the founder of Campaign for Vermont does not believe his group has done anything wrong but noted "if we didn't do it right, we'll correct it."[1]

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