A national Republican legislative PAC has increased its election spending in Vermont to nearly $250,000.
The Republican State Leadership Committee, a Washington, D.C., political action group that supports Republicans running for Statehouse seats, has made $242,759 in media purchases on behalf of GOP legislative candidates in Vermont.
Since then, it has spent nearly $100,000 more on mailings, radio and digital ads in support of seven Republican state Senate candidates.
The RSLC has spent $38,937 on mailings in support of Rutland County Senate candidates Peg Flory, Kevin Mullin and Brian Collamore; Franklin County candidates Dustin Degree and Norm McAllister; Robert Frenier in Orange County; and Pat McDonald in Washington County.
The GOP PAC also bought $26,000 in online advertising and $35,000 in radio ads specifically backing all of the above except Mullin, according to mass media filings with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Vermont Republican Party chairman Dave Sunderland said he appreciates the outside spending.
“The first ad was well done,” Sunderland said. “It was calling out the Democratic supermajority in the Legislature on taxes, the crisis in affordability and (lack of) job growth. It’s bringing these things to the attention of voters with a bigger microphone.”
Vermonters First, a conservative super PAC largely funded by Lenore Broughton of Burlington, spent more than $970,000 in the 2012 campaign cycle, but has been virtually inactive this year. The RSLC investment appears to be the largest amount of outside money to be spent on Vermont legislative races.
An RSLC spokeswoman last week said the effort is part of the group’s “50-state strategy” to gain control of state legislatures nationwide.
The RSLC said it has 100,000 donors, but its major benefactors include tobacco giant American Reynolds and Koch Industries, run by brothers David and Charles Koch. Their connection did not escape leaders of the state Democratic Party.
“It’s incredibly disturbing to see an organization backed by Koch Brothers spending exorbitant amounts of money in Vermont on behalf of VTGOP candidates and have the VTGOP welcome it with open arms,” Julia Barnes, executive director of the Vermont Democratic Party, said in a statement. “The Vermont Democratic Party isn’t going to be able to come close to that kind of outside ad buy, but we will keep doing the things we know Vermont voters actually want — talking to them in their communities about our candidates and the issues that are important to them.”
RSLC officials would not say whether the PAC intends to spend additional money in Vermont.