MONTPELIER >> Over the past three months, incumbent U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., has raised a mountain of money in his quest to beat maverick Republican Scott Milne, who, so far, has fulfilled his biggest campaign pledge of running on a shoestring budget.
While Leahy has taken in $552,852 between July 1 and Sept. 30, Milne has brought in a paltry $69,036, nearly $12,000 of which he donated from his own pocket, according to recently filed reports with the Federal Election Commission.
Since Leahy's last election in 2010, the senator has brought in over $4.67 million. More than $1.5 million of Leahy's total has come from political action committees representing various special interests. Milne's total campaign haul is just over $74,000 — $17,000 of which came from the candidate himself.
Leahy has raised nearly 10 times as much money as Milne in the last 12 weeks, and more than 60 times as much as Milne in the total span of 2016 election fundraising.
With three weeks left before election day, Leahy has nearly $2.95 million in the bank while Milne goes forward with slightly more than $34,000.
As the election approaches, Leahy has ramped up spending, with more than $773,000 doled out in the last three months. Milne, meanwhile, has spent just $34,00. More than a third of Leahy's recent disbursements were on advertising, with $296,000 directed to the Philadelphia-based political media outfit Shorr Johnson Magnus.
Leahy has five salaried employees on the campaign while Milne has no hired staff. Instead, the Republican's two children, Keith and Elise, are running the campaign without pay.
Leahy's spending on fundraising consultants in the last three months ($49,759) is more than Milne has spent on his entire campaign ($39,721).
"I believe that professional politicians, long and expensive campaigns, and the special interest money that fuels them, are ruining democracy and our future," Milne said in a statement. "Our campaign is unique in our clean campaign pledge, no solicitation of donations, and Yankee frugality."
Throughout the campaign, Milne has accepted no PAC money, while Leahy collected $158,500 in the past three months alone.
His recent PAC donors include special interests that have given the maximum allowed $5,000 contribution per election cycle. They include Bank of America, the National Association of Realtors, Delta Airlines, End Citizens United, wireless communication company CTIA, biopharmaceutical company Gilead Sciences, cable company Cox and the Directors Guild of America.
General Electric — which has an aviation plant in Rutland — exceeded the contribution limit to Leahy, prompting the campaign to return $500 to GE on Sept. 29.
Other corporate contributors to Leahy in the past three months include Pfizer ($3,000), Verizon ($3,000), Yahoo ($2,000), Amazon ($2,500) and Ebay ($2,500).
In addition, Leahy's Green Mountain PAC has received thousands of special interest dollars this election cycle. Those donors include Timer Warner ($2000), Google ($5,000), Facebook ($2,500) and AT&T ($3,000).
While Milne has received no corporate money, he has been largely bankrolled by the Sutton family of Arizona, who own Meridian Engineering. Milne has received $21,600 from various members of the family, a number of whom have given the maximum allowed $5,400 to his campaign.
Milne went to college with a member of the family, Leslie Sutton, and two of his other large campaign donors, David Boies III and John Edwards, are also college friends. Boies, who does business with Milne, and Edwards each gave Milne $5,400.
"We have not asked anyone for money, including these folks," campaign manager Elise Milne said in a statement. "All of our donations are unsolicited."
While the Milne campaign says they have not asked for money, Leahy has held a handful of campaign fundraisers this election season.
A July 21 fundraiser was detailed in the recent WikiLeaks dump of emails from John Podesta, a former Leahy staffer who now serves as Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman.
"Over the years all of us have been connected by a few important things: social justice, public service, righteous causes, the love of Italian food, and Senator Patrick Leahy," Podesta wrote in an email over the summer. "Please join my brother Tony and me where we bring all these things together on July 21 in support of Senator Leahy's re-election campaign. We have much to celebrate, and much work ahead. Keeping Senator Leahy in the Senate is vital to achieving our mutual goals. I will be cooking. Tony is in charge of wine. Thanks. John."
A web page accepting money for the fundraiser — which was set up by campaign funding network Act Blue — shows the Leahy fundraiser ranged in price from $500 to $2,500. The only large dollar donation Leahy reported on July 21 — the day of the fundraiser — came from Jonathan Becker ($1,000), who works at Heather Podesta + Partners.
Leahy spokesman Jay Tilton did not answer questions regarding when the other donations from the Podesta fundraiser were recorded to the FEC, saying simply "the date on the filing reflects the date the contribution was recorded."
There was, however, nearly $30,000 transferred to Leahy's campaign committee from Act Blue's senate account roughly a week after the Podesta fundraiser.