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The RGA and Brian Dubie Settle with the State in Campaign Finance Law Enforcement Action

CONTACT: William H. Sorrell, Attorney General, (802) 828-3173

April 19, 2013

Attorney General William Sorrell announced today that his Office has settled a lawsuit against the Republican Governors Association and former gubernatorial candidate Brian Dubie concerning campaign finance violations stemming from the 2010 gubernatorial campaign. The settlement, approved by the Vermont Superior Court, concludes an enforcement action brought by the Attorney General’s Office in December 2011. The Court’s Judgment Order finds that the RGA and Dubie violated Vermont’s campaign finance laws by exceeding the $6,000 limit on contributions from PACs to candidates. The Order requires the RGA to pay the State a civil penalty of $30,000. Dubie will pay a civil penalty to the State of $10,000 and make a contribution of $10,000 to the Vermont Foodbank.

As alleged in the State’s Complaint, by sharing confidential polling data that led to media expenditures, the RGA and Dubie coordinated their activities to an extent that violated Vermont’s contribution limits. The RGA used the polling data to create and broadcast television and radio advertising in support of Dubie valued at $242,000. The Judgment Order confirms that the RGA asked the Dubie campaign for the results of its confidential polling in order to factor it into strategic decisions regarding its television and radio advertising in 2010. Dubie acknowledges that his campaign gave the data to the RGA without verifying how it would be used. Because the Dubie campaign facilitated the RGA’s advertising, under Vermont’s campaign finance law, the cost of each ad is counted as a contribution to Dubie.

During September and October, 2010, the Dubie campaign conducted daily tracking polls of public opinion in Vermont on various issues related to the campaign. Although it did not share this information publicly, the Dubie campaign gave the daily poll results to the RGA. Shortly thereafter, the RGA created and ran three different advertisements in support of candidate Dubie. The State contended that the RGA’s advertisements were materially influenced by the Dubie campaign’s polling data.

Attorney General William Sorrell expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the case. “The RGA clearly bears more responsibility here. Brian Dubie’s campaign staff erred in accommodating the RGA’s request for polling data,” said Sorrell. “This case sends a message to PACs that they cannot get around the contribution limits by soliciting valuable, private information from candidates in order to shape their campaign tactics,” concluded the Attorney General.

  Website consulting provided by The National Association of Attorneys General.