As Jerry Greenfield pointed out, the first step for real campaign finance reform is persuading Gov. Shumlin to veto S.82. It’s a bill that would give corporations, PACs and very wealthy folks more influence over how we elect our leaders in Montpelier—and that’s not only unnecessary, it’s just wrong.
If Gov. Shumlin vetoes S.82, then our lawmakers have an opportunity to bring up a better bill—one that puts commonsense limits on campaign contributions and provides the public much more information about who’s giving, how much, and to whom.
The idea that “it’s S.82 or nothing” this year is simply wrong. Gov. Shumlin can veto the bill and send it back to legislators with instructions for how it could be improved. And those changes would not be difficult or time consuming. In fact, Gov. Shumlin was leading the Senate the last time a gubernatorial veto triggered lawmakers to pass a campaign finance bill twice in one biennium, back in 2008.
For the sake of Vermont’s democracy, it’s worth it to get this campaign finance reform bill right. There are many positive aspects of the bill that should be preserved, but other elements that must be improved.
• Double the amount of money that corporations, PACs and wealthy individuals can give to statewide candidates from $2,000 to $4,000
• Quintuple the amount that PACs, corporations and the rich can give to political parties from $2,000 to $10,000
• Allow unlimited contributions from political parties to candidates
• Fail to substantially improve disclosure requirements (adding just two new reports over a two-year period and filing to collect occupation or employer info)
• Do nothing to stop corporations from giving directly to candidates, and
• Fail to require fat cat funders of Super PACs to appear in their own ads
Here’s a link to the chart VPIRG worked up, so you can see side-by-side comparisons of the different versions of the bill.