Super PACs Okayed in Vermont

Jul 27, 2012

The Vermont Attorney General says independent expenditure committees, or Super PACs, are allowed in the state.

In a guidance letter issued this week, Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell noted that Vermont law does not distinguish between a PAC that makes contributions to or coordinates with a candidate versus one that acts completely independent of any candidates.  He has determined that  both PACs and Super PACs must follow registration and disclosure rules.  Those that make only independent expenditures, the Super PACs, will not be restricted to the state’s two thousand dollar contribution limit.  Lobbyist Bob Stannard set up the Priorities Super PAC to test Vermont’s campaign finance laws. Stannard says if the state Attorney General had decided otherwise, he would have been in conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says the Attorney General’s guidance helps his office outline rules.

Vermont Law School Associate Professor Jennifer Taub has researched and written on corporate spending in political campaigns. Taub notes that the Attorney General’s statement is consistent with Citizens United and the recent Montana rulings.

The Vermont Attorney General plans to consult with the Vermont Legislature when it reconvenes to seek legislative remedies regarding contribution limits.  Jennifer Taub notes that will also be important to have a concise definition between PAC and Super PACs.

Calls to the Vermont Attorney General’s office were not returned in time for this broadcast.