Republican PAC nears $250,000 in campaign spending

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.

The RSLC last week spent $142,822 on a television and radio campaign called “Vermont’s Best Days,” which encouraged voters to support GOP candidates in legislative races.

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.

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Tom Brown

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  • Bob Zeliff

    The Republicans and their out of state big PAC money are tearing down one of the last values of Vermont, being a Vermonter and what makes us different.

    Their big out of state money being put in LOCAL Legislative races is a game changer!

    It used to be a Vermonter could run for the legislature with the help of friends and a few hundred dollars. Real democracy..open to every one.

    Now Rutland county has big out of state PAC money… and the republicans will have to answer the calls from their out of state $$ friends..maybe evan vote the way the $$ request.

    The are making a shame of their old slogan “Take Vermont Back” now it seem their new policy “Give us out of state money and we will be indebted to you…Vermont is cheap!”


    • Paul Richards

      “The Republicans and their out of state big PAC money are tearing down one of the last values of Vermont, being a Vermonter and what makes us different.”
      Bob, between 2005 and 2011 the unions spent $4.4 BILLION on political activity. Do you think any of that came to VT.? You make it sound like this is something new that the Republicans created. The Dems have had a lock on the fundraising for decades and now that they are being challenged they want to change the rules.
      Why do you think bernie sanders is just returning from a Los Vegas union fundraiser?

  • Jay Eshelman

    So – “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,…..”

    Apparently Tom ‘The Pot’ Brown is calling ‘The Kettle’ black – again.

    According to the Center for Public Integrity, itself with a donor list resembling that of PBS (the Public Broadcasting Corp.), “Democrats are embracing super PACs — the independent political money groups they once derided — and are easily outpacing Republicans in the race for cash, according to the most recent campaign finance filings.”

    “Margin close to 4-to-1 among parties’ biggest PACs”


    Listen, being an issue guy, I’m no fan of party politics. But come on VTDigger – if you want to be taken seriously as a news organization, how about a little less partisanship.

    • Tom Brown

      Jay, I didn’t say “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,” Democratic Party ED Julia Barnes did. This story is as neutral as it could possibly be.

      • Jamie Carter

        “This story is as neutral as it could possibly be.”

        Well not really…you could compare outside money in Republican campaigns v. outside money in Democrats campaign. Then it would be neutral.

        • Tom Brown

          Jamie, to my knowledge, and I have looked, there is no outside money being spent on Democratic legislative candidates this cycle. If you find some, please let me know and I will pursue it. Thanks.

          • Jamie Carter

            Tom I didn’t specify legislative candidates.

            VTDigger has reported twice now on outside money from conservative super pacs. Clearly, out side money and super pacs are two terms that have a bad reputation in this state and elsewhere.

            I haven’t seen a single story on outside money for any democrat candidate, or super pac for any democrat candidate.

            That’s not neutral by any definition, and adding in a “legislative” qualifer doesn’t make it any more neutral.

          • Tom Brown

            Jamie, I’m not sure what story you are writing, but mine is about outside money being spent on behalf of candidates running for Statehouse. Individual candidates are subject to much different rules than super-Pacs in that they are not allowed to receive unlimited contributions. Therefore, if individual candidates are receiving out of state money it is limited to amounts specified under Vermont law. There is no limit on how much a PAC can spend on behalf of individual candidates and that is why this is an important story. Unlimited outside spending has an effect on elections. If the Democratic super PACs were spending $250,000, or even $10, on local races I would would report it, but there is no filing to show that. Hope that clears this confusion up for you.

          • Jamie Carter

            Sorry Tom I guess I’m not being clear.

            Writing two stories about outside money and PAC’s favoring republicans but no stories about outside money and PACs that favor democrats just doesn’t appear neutral.

            I understand that this about legislative races as opposed to statewide offices and as far as you know there have been no PACs proping up the Democrats in legislative races.

            However, you surely must see that negative reports against one party but not against the opposite party does not give the appearance of neutrality.

            Moreover, as you point out unlimited outside spending has an effect on elections. That’s not entirely true, unlimited media has an effect on elections and so when media outlets skew towards one party that is as important as large amounts of outside money. Considering that “PAC’s” and “outside money” are considered in the same realm as derogatory terms, reporting only one party being supported by them is notable…

            I look forward to your upcoming article regarding out of state contributions and their effect on the Governor’s race.

      • Jay Eshelman

        Tom, perhaps there’s a bit more to the story regarding PBS’s observation that the Democratic Party in Vermont raises three times the monetary contributions raised by the Republican Party….whether or not it’s for national or local candidates.

        Have you determined, for example, that when the Vermont Chapter of the Sierra Club, Vermont CURE, or the Vermont NEA (the teacher’s union) supports local democratic candidates, as they do, that there are no contributions from national organizations subsidizing those local chapters?

        Even Elizabeth Warren, not a local Vermonter by any stretch, is estimated to have recently raised $100,000 in a Vermont Democratic fundraiser.

        I simply take issue with ‘the story’ here – that when the Republican Party funding machine kicks into gear and just begins to approach parity with the Democratic Party funding machine, regardless of how the money is laundered, it’s a big deal. But when PBS and others report that the Democratic funding machine is blowing the Republicans out of the water, so to speak, it’s a yawn.


        P.S. And Tom, just because you choose to report something someone else said doesn’t make you a mere neutral observer, especially when you consistently choose not to report what the other side does.

        But I guess that’s why we have ‘commentary’ and VT Digger can be congratulated for that.

  • Jay Eshelman

    And then there is this from Vermont Public Radio, of all places:

    Democratic Donors Give Big As GOP’s Money Woes Grow
    By PETER HIRSCHFELD • JUN 19, 2014

    “The Vermont Democratic Party has for years now enjoyed a financial advantage over its Republican counterpart. But recent campaign finance filings suggest the fiscal divide is deepening.”

  • Chet Greenwood

    You are right Bob, out of state money could bring consequences-

    Governor Shumlin has taken in almost $300k from out of stater’s this year alone and he had to travel around the country on our dime to collect it!

    Careful what you wish for.

  • Jay Eshelman

    Oh, but wait: it’s a ‘good cop – bad cop’ thing, isn’t it. Reverse psychology.

    Tom ‘The Pot’ Brown must be a covert GOP operative making blatantly outrageous statements to solicit innocent responses like mine to further bolster the Vermont GOP.

    Who’s on first?

  • Carl Werth

    It sure is a good thing no democrats or democratic lead initiatives take ANY out of state money…

    • Bob Zeliff

      Guys….it is the Republicans that getting big PAC money for local state legislators on a scale never seen before in Vermont.

      Jim Douglas took out of state and PAC money, right now most ($$) of Phil Scott’s current year donations are NOT from small donation Vermonters but big and out of state donors.

      You apologists are side stepping the core issue.

      It is the Republican that are now bring big out of state money to our LOCAL legislators!

      This is the irreversible game changer that Vermont Republican are inflicting on Vermont.

      Yes I think it is shameful.

  • paul lutz


    Nice way to introduce the evil “Koch” brothers into the mix.

    All the misinformed voters will apreciate that. Of course they were going to vote for D anyway so you probably wasted ypur time.

    Perhaps you could do a contribution on the effect a completely bias, propaganda based media has on elections as they push the message for the left??

  • Jim Hall

    Hey folks, you ever heard of George Soros, and Warren Buffet and Bloomberg?
    Of course, you understand their money goes entirely to Republicans !!!!!
    Oh well, Walter Cronkite, and “That’s the way it is.”

  • This is the second story on this topic inside of a week, and the two are essentially the same, just with updated numbers. If we’re going to get a blow by blow account of Republican money in this election (fair enough), where’s the blow by blow account of GunSense Vermont donations to candidates? Where did that money come from? Who cashed the checks? Or Vermont Leads with its out of state union money. Maybe they’re not spending heavily at this point since it appears they’ve violated campaign finance law. Last cycle when Vermonters First used an image of a state flag in a web banner it earned a dramatic Digger headline of “Vermonters first Ads Deemed Illegal.” Where’s the story about single payer advocate Vermont Leads making potentially illegal donations to candidates worth tens of thousands of dollars? Or, as someone pointed out, over 50% of Shumlin’s money comes from out of state. Jim Douglas never exceeded 20%. How about a story breaking that down for us? Who’s buying the governorship? Looking forward to reading about all of this in the days to come!

  • Rep. Sarah Buxton

    I just went online to see what kind of info this group is trying to promote. I find it hysterical that they have one of my towns (Tunbridge) listed as TURNBRIDGE. Ha. I know it’s minor, but it’s what you get when you try to go big and forget about the little things. Like the people.

    • Jim Christiansen

      So Sarah has never made a mistake and thinks it’s okay to ridicule those who do.

      Now that’s leadership! Ha.

      Look out Digger, your credibility is apparently on the line if you make a spelling mistake. Sarah will be watching… and judging

  • Rich Lachapelle

    Yet another paranoid manifestation of “Koch Brothers Derangement Syndrome”, formerly known as Bush Derangement Syndrome. This disease primarily affects media people and elected politicians, Sen. Harry Reed being the most prominent example. One of it’s obvious symptoms is a selective blinding effect where the political influences of George Soros and Michael Bloomberg are completely overlooked. The symptoms can be tempered by reducing one’s consumption of liberal kool-aid and by completely cutting off all exposure to MSNBC.