Senate Passes Campaign Finance Reform Bill

On March 24, the Vermont Senate gave its final approval by a vote of 22-8 to legislation (S.51) that would make important changes to state campaign finance law.

Most significantly under S.51, only individuals, political committees, and political parties would be allowed make political contributions to candidates. The bill would increase transparency in campaign finance as well, by requiring political committees (a.k.a. PACs) to include the name of any connected organization in the name of the PAC. Finally, the bill also calls for a study to identify ways of improving Vermont’s public financing system. 

VPIRG has been a longtime champion of this legislation. We applaud the Vermont Senate for taking another important step to strengthen our democracy and lift the voices of working Vermonters who rarely make large political contributions. These are the people who should decide the outcome of elections, not faceless corporations.

Vermont’s current campaign finance law allows corporations to contribute to candidates and parties just as human beings can. Corporations are not people, however, and they should not have the same rights when it comes to supporting candidates and influencing elections.  

Twenty-two states already prohibit corporations from contributing to political campaigns. The federal government has also banned direct corporate contributions to federal candidates for more than 100 years. It’s time for Vermont to do the same.