Vermont Business Magazine A Vermont political action committee will pay a civil penalty of $8,750 on account of reporting violations during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. Campaign finance reports filed by the Democratic Attorneys General Association PAC (“DAGA PAC”) contained inaccurate information and omitted key disclosures, including the source of the thousands of dollars in contributions it received. The complaint in this matter was investigated jointly by the Civil Division of the Vermont Attorney General’s Office and Special Counsel Thomas A Little for the Committee of State’s Attorneys.
According to the settlement agreement, DAGA PAC received $8,000 in contributions and made $8,000 expenditures in connection with the 2012 primary and general election for Vermont Attorney General. In July 2012, DAGA PAC filed a campaign finance report with the Secretary of State that reported $6,000 in expenditures in the form of contributions to the Sorrell for Attorney General campaign. However, the report did not report any contributions during the relevant period, and failed to include the required detailed listing of contributions over $100. DAGA PAC also failed to file the required campaign finance report due in October 2012. If timely filed, that report would have shown the receipt of an additional $2,000 in contributions and $2,000 in expenditures in the form of a contribution to the Vermont Democratic Party. After being notified of the potential violations, DAGA PAC filed the missing campaign finance report and amended versions of its other reports in July 2015.
Under 17 V.S.A. § 2811, DAGA PAC had an obligation to file accurate and timely campaign finance reports. Its failure to do so was a violation of this provision of Vermont’s campaign finance law. DAGA PAC’s reports lacked all disclosure of the identity of its donors and did not report all of its expenditures and therefore, the sources of all DAGA PAC funds spent in Vermont and the nature of its campaign activities were not available to Vermont voters at critical junctures in the 2012 election cycle.
“The purpose of the reporting requirements in Vermont’s Campaign Finance Law is to provide transparency in political funding,” said Megan J. Shafritz, Chief of the Civil Division in the Vermont Attorney General’s Office. “Complete and accurate reports need to be filed in a timely fashion in order to keep the public informed.”
In a concurrent but separate matter, Thomas A. Little, appointed in the spring of 2015 as Special Counsel for the Committee of State’s Attorneys, stated that an investigation of the 2012 campaign finance filings of the Committee for Justice and Fairness PAC (“CJF PAC”) was concluded without the filing of charges. CJF PAC made independent expenditures in support of Attorney General Sorrell’s re-election campaign in 2012. Little explained that at the time, Vermont campaign finance law permitted federally-established political action committees operating in Vermont, including CJF PAC, to satisfy certain state filing requirements through their federal reports. Therefore, no violations of the Vermont law were found. The General Assembly has since amended Vermont law to require the same filings from all PACs operating in Vermont.
Source: Vermont AG Dec 20, 2016