NEWS RELEASE — Vermont Progressive Party
Jan. 3, 2013
Martha Abbott, Chair, Vermont Progressive Party
Email: [email protected]
On January 3rd, Vermont Progressive Party Chair Martha Abbott sent the attached letter to her fellow major party Chairs, calling on them to join the Progressive Party in refusing corporate donations and asking them to join in a pledge to ask Super PACs to stay out of Vermont elections. This letter follows up on a resolution passed by the Party’s State Committee in November (also attached).
The letter challenges the Democratic and Republican Party Chairs to: (1) refuse all corporate contributions in the 2013-2014 cycle and (2) pledge to publicly ask Super PACs not to spend money on behalf of any of their Parties’ candidates and encourage their candidates to do the same.
About the challenge, Martha Abbott had this to say: “In the 2011-2012 election cycle, Monsanto gave donations to both the Republican and Democratic parties. Fairpoint donated to both Democrat Peter Shumlin and Republican Randy Brock, running against each other for Governor. Perhaps more worrisome, companies who may be affected by health care reform gave generously to many candidates: Republican Randy Brock received donations from Northeast Delta Dental and the Vermont Radiologists PAC, while Democrat Peter Shumlin accepted donations from Healthdirect (a Division of Kinney Drugs) and First Newport Insurance Association of California. Drug conglomerate Pfizer gave to both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Over the coming months, we will be asking Vermont campaign donors to get involved in this effort by donating only to candidates and parties who have pledged not to accept corporate donations. Vermonters can set an example for the nation about how to work together to level the playing field even as we compete for votes.”
January 3, 2012
Jake Perkinson, Chair
Vermont Democratic Party
PO Box 1220
Montpelier, VT 05601
Jack Lindley, Chair
Vermont Republican Party
PO BOX 70
Montpelier, VT 05601
Fellow Party Chairs,
The past two years saw historic levels of unlimited spending in Vermont and nationally on political campaigns by corporations and Super PACs on behalf of both Democratic and Republican Party candidates.
Here in Vermont, where we value the personal contact that we have with our political representatives, there has been a great deal of agreement from all sides of the political spectrum that the
Citizens United decision was damaging to our democratic process. Many people have called for a constitutional amendment tomake it clear that corporations are not people, should not have the same rights as people, and that money is not speech. This amendment would allow reasonable campaign finance limits that would prevent a handful of billionaires from being able to attempt to buy elections.
However, a constitutional amendment will take time. Here in Vermont, we are fortunate to value the contributions of people of moderate means to the politicalprocess. We can decide to preserve our open and accessible political process by agreeing to abide by some simple rules and insisting that all of the candidates who want the support of our respective parties also abide by these rules:
1) Refuse all corporate contributions. Simply return those checks and ask that the corporate shareholders donate as individuals if they so wish. Candidates for US Senate and US Representative are already prohibited under Federal Law from accepting donations from corporations.
2) Let’s agree that, as Chairs of our respective parties, we will pledge to publicly ask Super PACs not to spend money in Vermont on behalf of any candidate for public office. Let’s also encourage all our candidates to do the same. Let’s agree that, if any Super PAC does spend money on behalf of a Democrat, Republican or Progressive, that the favored party or candidate will donate half that amount of money to a Vermont charity. Let’s also agree that we will challenge all the candidates who seek the support or nomination of our respective parties to make a similar agreement with their opponents.
We are lucky in Vermont to have a small community, where we know and respect each other and where democracy is alive and well. Let’s show the rest of the country that we can take back our democracy from billionaires and corporations, and that we can do it by talking to each other and agreeing to work together on a level playing field even as we compete for votes.
Martha Abbott, Chair
Vermont Progressive Party