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PAC Run by Democratic Governors Association Settles with the State in Campaign Finance Law Enforcement Action

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, Eve Jacobs-Carnahan, Assistant Attorney General, , (802) 828-3173, (802) 828-1101

November 12, 2013

A campaign finance enforcement action against Green Mountain Future (“GMF”), a political action committee set up by the Democratic Governors Association, has settled for a total penalty of $30,000. The settlement, approved by the Vermont Superior Court, requires GMF to pay the State a civil penalty of $20,000 for failing to include its address on its website or on television ads that it ran during the 2010 gubernatorial campaign in the fall of 2010. In addition, GMF must pay the $10,000 penalty that the court previously imposed for GMF’s failure to register as a PAC and file reports of its campaign finances.

“Voters are legally entitled to know who is seeking to influence them,” explained Attorney General William Sorrell. “PACs need to obey the laws. They cannot hide. They must disclose their identity, including their address, their donors, and their expenditures, to the extent required by law.”

During the 2010 campaign, GMF spent over $500,000 on political advertisements. Its television ads attacking candidate Brian Dubie were aired thousands of times, but they did not include complete identifying information. Since GMF had not filed reports with the Secretary of State’s Office, there was no way for the public to find out who was really behind the advertisements.

In December 2011, the court determined that GMF violated Vermont’s campaign finance laws, but did not impose a penalty for GMF’s failure to fully identify itself on the ads. In September, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled that the lower court erred in not imposing a penalty and stated that “the difficulty of calculating a penalty [does not] mean that no penalty can be awarded.” The case was returned to the trial court for consideration of an appropriate penalty. This settlement concludes the only remaining issue in the enforcement action.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.