Within the next 24 hours, a key House committee will vote on whether to give very wealthy individuals and corporations the right to pour even more money into Vermont elections. And at this moment, it looks like the vote will be bad – very bad.
The Senate passed a bill (S.82) just a few weeks ago that set reasonable limits on contributions to candidates. We had hoped the House would do the right thing too. But this morning, things took a turn for the worse.
Look at how much more money the Super Rich could give under the DRAFT limits given preliminary approval by the House Government Operations Committee this morning:
|Senate Bill S.82||DRAFT House Government
Operations Committee Bill
|$ to House||$750 from a person or corp.||$2,000 from a person or corp.|
|Candidates||$750 from a PAC||$6,000 from a PAC|
|$3,000 from a political party||Unlimited from a political party|
|$ to Senate||$1,500 from a person or corp.||$3,000 from a person or corp.|
|Candidates||$1,500 from a PAC||$8,000 from a PAC|
|$6,000 from a political party||Unlimited from a political party|
|$ to Statewide||$3,000 from a person or corp.||$4,000 from a person or corp.|
|Candidates||$3,000 from a PAC||$10,000 from a PAC|
|$85,000 from a political party||Unlimited from a political party|
The DRAFT Gov’t Operations bill is not only worse than the Senate bill, it would actually be worse than doing nothing at all. In most cases the current limits on political contributions are less than those contained in the House DRAFT. So in other words, the Gov’t Operations House bill violates the first rule of medicine (and the unwritten rule of campaign finance): First, Do No Harm.
Last year Vermonters were treated to a barrage of relentlessly negative campaign ads paid for by a Super PAC that was funded almost entirely by a single donor. Voters cried out for more transparency in political ads – tell us who’s really paying for them – in part to reduce their harsh negativity.
The Senate bill required that the top donors to Super PACs be listed in all ads and mass mailings. The DRAFT Gov’t Operations bill may eliminate that needed transparency entirely.
There are still other worthwhile aspects of the legislation. But if the contribution limits and disclosure provisions aren’t fixed, VPIRG cannot support the bill. This would be a terrible missed opportunity to take action on the problem of money in politics.
If your Representative serves on the House Gov’t Operations Committee, your voice really matters. Please send a short note right now!