Democratic Attorneys General Association spends more than both candidates in waning week of primary campaigns

Have you heard former Gov. Howard Dean making a pitch for Bill Sorrell? Or listened to TJ Donovan’s gravelly voice on the radio lately?

With D-Day just a week away for both Democratic Primary candidates, the airwaves are starting to heat up.

And so are the mass media expenditures. Since Aug. 1, Donovan, the Democratic challenger, has spent $8,893 on radio advertising and $46,413 on direct mailings to voters, according to filings of mass media activities with the Vermont Secretary of State. (Donovan’s trendy and expensive direct mailing vendor, The Chadderdon Group, based in Alexandria, Va., also produced mailings for Gov. Peter Shumlin in the 2010 election.)

Sorrell, the incumbent AG, has spent $23,159 on radio advertising and $13,208 on postage and printing for a direct mailing (produced by Villanti and Sons in Milton — an expenditure that raised the ire of Democratic Party activists who said Sorrell should have hired a union shop for the job).

The biggest spender in the race, however, is neither one of the candidates. An outside group, the Committee for Justice and Fairness Political Action Committee, which is an arm of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, has spent $145,000 on broadcast advertising to support Sorrell (the ad features Dean) since Aug. 9. The PAC has spent an additional $39,000 on a direct mailing for Sorrell.

All told, the DAGA has blown $184,000, two-thirds as much as both candidates had raised by Aug. 15 (a combined total of $282,131), according to campaign finance reports.

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Anne Galloway

About Anne

Anne Galloway is the founder and editor of VTDigger and the executive director of the Vermont Journalism Trust. Galloway founded VTDigger in 2009 after she was laid off from her position as Sunday editor of the Rutland Herald and Times Argus. VTDigger has grown from a $16,000 a year nonprofit with no employees to a $2 million nonprofit daily news operation with a staff of 25. In 2017, Galloway was a finalist for the Ancil Payne Award for Ethics, the Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award and the Investigative Reporters and Editors FOIA Award for her investigation into allegations of foreign investor fraud at Jay Peak Resort.

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