Attorney general: Old campaign finance law in place for 2014 election


Campaign finance limits will not change in the 2014 election cycle, according to a legal opinion from Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell.

Sorrell issued the opinion in response to a question from the Secretary of State about a glitch in the state's new campaign finance law. The Legislature passed new donation limits for parties and candidates in January, and Gov. Peter Shumlin enacted it into law on Jan. 23.

But a drafting error repealed the existing donation limits before the new law went into effect. A technical correction bill that fixed the mistake passed in the House but died in the Senate Finance Committee.

Sorrell's opinion makes it clear that even though the Legislature didn't address the error, lawmakers intended for the current law to remain in place through 2014 until Act 90 goes into effect Jan. 1, 2015.

"This is some guidance going forward with the Legislature gone now and with the election season starting up in earnest," Sorrell said.

That means for this year, no Vermont candidate can accept more than $1,000 from a single source or more than $3,000 from a political committee for any election, and no political action committee can accept contributions of more than $2,000 from a single source, political committee or political party over the two-year general election cycle, according to Sorrell.

After Jan. 1, 2015, candidates for statewide office will be able to accept campaign donations of up to $4,000 from a single source or political committee over the two-year election cycle. Political parties, under the new law, can take donations of up to $10,000 from a single source or political committee, and $60,000 from a political party.

The new law puts a lid of $1,000 for donations to House candidates, and Senate candidates can receive no more than $1,500.

Contribution limits will be adjusted for inflation.


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