Attorney general dismisses campaign finance complaint against Corren

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Attorney general dismisses campaign finance complaint against Corren

Tue, 11/21/2017 - 12:27pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine Attorney General TJ Donovan announced today that his office has reached a settlement with Dean Corren in a campaign finance enforcement action arising out of Corren’s 2014 campaign for lieutenant governor. The parties filed a stipulation of dismissal with the Superior Court today. By the terms of the settlement, Corren will pay $255 to a Vermont charitable organization. Trial had been set for December 7, 2017, in Vermont Superior Court in Washington County.

The Attorney General’s Office brought the action in 2015 to enforce laws that prohibit publicly financed candidates from soliciting or accepting private contributions to their campaigns. By participating in the Public Financing Option, Dean Corren received more than $180,000 in public money. In return, he agreed to abide by restrictions on private contributions.

Despite these restrictions, the Corren campaign repeatedly asked the Vermont Democratic Party (VDP) for in-kind contributions to the Corren campaign. On October 13, 2014, Corren’s campaign sent the text of an email to the VDP and asked it to send the message to the VDP’s extensive email list. On October 24, 2014, the VDP sent an edited version of the message to more than 16,000 people promoting Corren. The parties to this action agreed that the mass email had a value of $255.

In July of this year, the Court ruled that the mass email was a contribution by the VDP to the Corren campaign. Further, the Court ruled that the mass email did not qualify for any exemptions from the legal definition of contribution. The Court left other matters open and set the matter for trial in December.

Click here for Settlement or see below.

Washington Unit
Docket No. 187-3-15 Wncv
By and through their undersigned counsel, the State of Vermont (the "State")
and Dean R. Corren ("Corren") hereby agree to resolve the campaign finance matter
that is the subject of this action by entering into this Agreement as follows:
WHEREAS, the State filed this enforcement action against Corren alleging
violations of Vermont's public financing option for election campaigns;
WHEREAS, the Court issued a Decision on Cross-Motions for Summary
Judgment on July 3, 2017, in this action which held that the mass email was a
contribution and did not qualify for an exemption, but left other matters open for
WHEREAS, the parties now enter into this agreement for their mutual
convenience in recognition of the costs and risks associated with litigation;
WHEREAS, the parties agree that this agreement is supported by good and
binding consideration in the form of the promises and obligations set forth below;
WHEREAS, the State and Corren agree that the following facts are true and
1. Corren was a candidate for lieutenant governor in 2014, qualified for
public financing and received $180, 717 in public finance grants.
2. Corren, his campaign manager, and his key campaign adviser made .
several requests to the Vermont Democratic Party ("VDP") for assistance with
Corren's campaign, including on October 13, 2014 sending the VDP the text of an
email which might be edited and sent to the VDP's email list.
3. On October 24, 2014, the VDP at the request of the Corren campaign
sent an edited version of the October 13· email message expressing support for Corren
to more than 16,100 people on the VDP mailing list (the "mass email").
4. The parties have since stipulated that the value of the mass email was
5. On July 3, 2017, the Vermont Superior Court ruled that the mass email
was a contribution under the Vermont campaign finance law and was not excluded
from the law's definition of "contribution".
6. Vermont law states that publicly financed candidates shall "not solicit,
accept, or expend any contributions other than qualifying contributions, Vermont
campaign finance grants and contributions authorized under 17 V.S.A. § 2985."
7. Corren's position in the litigation was that even if this mass email was
not excluded from the definition of a contribution, he did not accept a "contribution"
because his campaign offered, before the mass email was sent out on October 24,
2014, to pay for it if it did not qualify for an exclusion. Furthermore, after receiving
. notice on October 30, 2014, that the Attorney General's Office had received a
complaint and the email blast might not be exempt, his campaign offered to pay for
8. The State's position in the litigation was that the mass email constituted
a contribution because the VDP never agreed to accept payment from Corren for the
email, and he had no reasonable expectation that he could pay the VDP for it.
9. This matter is scheduled for trial on December 7-8, 2017, before the Civil
Division of the Vermont Superior Court in Washington County.
WHEREFORE, the State and Corren agree to settle this matter by taking the
following actions:
A. Corren will pay $255 to Green Up Vermont, Vermont Children's Trust
Fund, Vermont Nongame Wildlife Fund, or Vermont Veterans Fund within 10 days
of the signing of this Agreem~nt.
B. The parties will stipulate to the dismissal of this action pursuant to
V.R.C.P. 41(a)(l).
FURTHER, Corren, on behalf of himself, his heirs, executors, successors,
assigns, campaign staff, advisers, and agents, agrees to release and forever discharge
the State, its departments, agencies, and all present and former employees, officers,
agents and representatives, from any and all claims and causes of actions that relate
in any manner to his 2014 campaign for lieutenant governor, his 2014 participation
in Vermont's public financing option, the State's enforcement of campaign finance
statutes related to the 2014 campaign, and the resolution of this enforcement action;
provided however that, except as specifically set forth below, Corren does not waive
or release his right to continue litigating the appeal currently pending in Dean Corren
et al. v. James C. Condos et al., United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit
No. 17-1343-cv; and
FURTHER, Corren agrees that he will not offer this Agreement, the fact of this
Agreement, or the dismissal of this action as evidence or argument in any pending or
future action whatsoever, in any forum, including but not limited to the federal action
currently pending in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, titled Dean Corren,
et al. v. James C. Condos, et al., No. 17-1343-cv.
Dated at Burlington, Vermont, this a day of ,nMJ1116'4 2017.
ranco, Jr.
Ifaw Offices of John L. Franco, Jr.
110 Main St.
Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 864-7207
Counsel for Dean R. Corren
. ,--
Dated at Montpelier, Vermont, thisZC>day of~.
Assistant Attorneys
Office of the Attorne
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609-1001
(802) 828-3176
Counsel for the State of Vermont

Vermont AG: Nov 21, 2017