Local TV stations draw down $185,000 from super PACs

Super PAC spending in Vermont has been amply publicized, but just how many of these dollars filtered down to local TV stations is still coming to light.

Politcal ad filings show that the conservative super PAC, Vermonters First, shelled out $185,165 for airtime with WCAX, FOX and ABC. The bulk of this — more than $160,000, before ad agency commissions — went to WCAX. (An external agency handles WCAX’s ad buys and collects a 15 percent commission.) Vermonters First ran multiple TV ads in support of the unsuccessful Republican candidate for state treasurer, Wendy Wilton, a single ad in support of Vince Illuzzi, the unsuccessful Republican candidate for state auditor, and several issue ads targeting Democrats for implementing single-payer health care and allegedly supporting a sales tax for services. Vermonters First dished out a total of roughly $1 million in political spending during this election cycle.

Vermont Leads, a super PAC formed by Service Employees International Union, a pro-single-payer 501(c)(4) organization, spent about $35,000 during the election and invested $23,045 in airtime on WCAX, FOX, ABC and CWTV. Again, WCAX brought in the largest amount, collecting $19,700, before agency commissions. Vermont Lead’s executive director Peter Sterling said one of the PAC’s goals this election was “to push back against a lot of the misinformation that’s been sent around [by Vermonters First and Republican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock].”

These figures do not include ad time purchased on WPTZ because the station does not make political ad filings available at its Vermont office. Totals take into account ad buys made for September and October; November records are not made publicly available until the end of the month.

Alicia Freese

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