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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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S.234

Introduced by   Senator White of Windham District

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Elections; campaign finance; Vermont campaign finance option

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to revise comprehensively the Vermont campaign finance option.

AN ACT RELATING TO THE VERMONT CAMPAIGN FINANCE OPTION

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  FINDINGS

The general assembly finds that:

(1)  Public financing of campaigns for the general assembly, conditioned on an appropriate number of qualifying contributions and expenditure limits for participating candidates, will increase citizen participation, will limit the time spent soliciting contributions, and will reduce the need of elected officials to respond to, and provide access to, contributors.  As a result, candidates will be freed to devote more time and energy to debate the issues and elected officials will be able to spend more time responding to constituents and to performing their official duties.

(2)  Public financing of campaigns for the general assembly will increase public confidence in the integrity of government by reducing the role of special interests in financing campaigns and the potential conflicts of interest that arise from private financing of campaigns.

(3)  Public financing of campaigns for the general assembly will encourage participation by a broader range of candidates, including qualified candidates who currently are discouraged from seeking office by the cost of campaigns, and will provide resources to independent candidates, all of which will increase the robust debate of issues and ideas.

(4)  Public financing of campaigns for the general assembly will ultimately save taxpayers money by reducing the likelihood of subsidies and special privileges for special interests that contribute heavily to campaigns.

(5)  Because it is essential for all candidates to have their names and positions on issues known to the electorate and because incumbents have a substantial advantage in these areas, public grants and campaign expenditures must be reduced for incumbents.

Sec. 2.  17 V.S.A. chapter 59, subchapter 6 is amended to read:

Subchapter 6.  Vermont Campaign Finance Option

§ 2851.  DEFINITIONS

As used in this subchapter, unless the context otherwise indicates:

(1)  “Affidavit” means the Vermont campaign finance affidavit required under section 2852 of this title.

(2)  “General election period” means the period beginning the day after the primary election and ending the day of the general election.

(3)  “Primary election period” means the period beginning the day after primary petitions must be filed under section 2356 of this title and ending the day of the primary election.

(4)  “Vermont campaign finance qualification period” means the period beginning February 15 of each even-numbered year and ending on the date on which primary petitions must be filed under section 2356 of this title.

(5)  “Secretary” means the secretary of state.

(1)  “Certified candidate” means a candidate running for the office of state senator or state representative who chooses to participate in the Vermont campaign finance option and who is certified under subsection 2853(g) of this title.

(2)  “Fund” means the fund established in section 2856 of this title.

(3)  “Nonparticipating candidate” means a candidate running for the office of state senator or state representative who does not choose to participate in the Vermont campaign finance option and who is not seeking to be certified under subsection 2853(g) of this title.

(4)  “Participating candidate” means a candidate who is running for the office of state senator or state representative and who is seeking to be certified under subsection 2853(g) of this title.

(5)  “Qualifying contribution” means a donation:

(A)  of $5.00 in the form of a check or a money order payable to the fund, signed by the contributor, and made in support of a candidate;

(B)  made by a registered voter within the electoral district of the office a candidate is seeking and whose voter registration has been verified by the secretary of state;

(C)  made during the designated qualifying period; and

(D)  that the contributor acknowledged was made with his or her personal funds and in support of the candidate and was not given in exchange for anything of value; and that the candidate acknowledged was obtained with the candidate’s knowledge and approval, and that nothing of value was given in exchange for the contribution on forms provided by the secretary of state.

(6)  “Qualifying period” means the period beginning on February 15 of each even-numbered year of the two‑year general election cycle and ending at 5:00 p.m. on the date on which primary petitions must be filed under section 2356 of this title.

(7)  “Seed money contribution” means a contribution of no more than $50.00 made to a participating candidate by an individual, including the candidate or the candidate’s family.

§ 2852.  FILING OF VERMONT CAMPAIGN FINANCE AFFIDAVIT

              OPTION

(a)  A candidate for the office of governor or lieutenant governor who intends to seek Vermont campaign finance grants from the Vermont campaign fund shall file a Vermont campaign finance affidavit on the date on or before which primary petitions must be filed, whether the candidate seeks to enter a party primary or is an independent candidate.

(b)  The secretary of state shall prepare a Vermont campaign finance affidavit form, informational materials on procedures and financial requirements and notification of the penalties for violation of this subchapter. The Vermont campaign finance affidavit shall set forth the conditions of receiving grants under this subchapter and provide space for the candidate to agree that he or she will abide by such conditions and all expenditure and contribution limitations, reporting requirements, and other provisions of this chapter.  The affidavit shall also state the candidate’s name, legal residence, business or occupation, address of business or occupation, party affiliation, if any, the office sought and whether the candidate intends to enter a party primary.  The affidavit shall also contain a list of all the candidate’s qualifying contributions together with the name and town of residence of the contributor and the date each contribution was made.  The affidavit may further require affirmation of such other information as deemed necessary by the secretary for the administration of this subchapter.  The affidavit shall be sworn and subscribed to by the candidate.

The Vermont campaign financing option is established and shall be available to candidates running for the office of state senator or state representative.  The Vermont campaign financing option shall be available to candidates for elections to be held beginning in the year 2010.  The secretary of state shall administer the provisions of this subchapter and the fund. Candidates participating in the Vermont campaign finance option shall comply with all other applicable election and campaign laws except as specifically provided in this subchapter.

§ 2853.  VERMONT CAMPAIGN FINANCE GRANTS; CONDITIONS

              TERMS OF PARTICIPATION

(a)  A person shall not be eligible for Vermont campaign finance grants if, during a two-year general election cycle, he or she becomes a candidate by announcing that he or she seeks an elected position as governor or lieutenant governor, or by accepting contributions totaling $2,000.00 or more or by making expenditures totaling $2,000.00 or more, prior to February 15 of the general election year.

(b)  A candidate who accepts Vermont campaign finance grants, shall:

(1)  Not solicit, accept or expend any contributions except qualifying contributions, Vermont campaign finance grants and contributions authorized under section 2855 of this title, which contributions may be solicited, accepted or expended only in accordance with the provisions of this subchapter.

(2)  Deposit all qualifying contributions, Vermont campaign finance grants and any contributions accepted in accordance with the provisions of section 2855 of this title in a federally insured noninterest bearing checking account.

(3)  Not later than 40 days after the general election, deposit in the Vermont campaign fund, after all permissible expenditures have been paid, the balance of any amounts remaining in the account established under subdivision (2) of this subsection.

(a)  Declaration of intent.  A participating candidate shall file a declaration of intent to seek certification under this subchapter and to comply with the requirements of this chapter.  The declaration of intent shall be filed with the secretary of state prior to or during the qualifying period using forms and according to procedures developed by the secretary of state.  A participating candidate shall file a declaration of intent within five business days of collecting qualifying contributions under this subchapter.  Qualifying contributions collected more than five business days before the declaration of intent has been filed shall not be counted as qualifying contributions under subsection (e) of this section.

(b)(1)  Contribution limits for participating candidates.  After becoming a candidate as defined by subdivision 2801(1) of this title and prior to certification, a participating candidate may not accept contributions except for seed money contributions.  A participating candidate may accept a total of seed money contributions up to the following amounts:

(A)  For the office of state senator, $1,500.00.

(B)  For the office of state representative, $500.00.

(2)  Seed money accepted above the limits set forth in this subsection shall be deducted from a participating candidate’s fund distribution under subdivision (m)(1) of this section.

(c)  Seed money report.  Seed money contributions and expenditures shall be reported according to procedures developed by the secretary of state.  A candidate shall report the name, residential address, and occupation and employer of every contributor.

(d)  Seed money restrictions.  To be eligible for certification, a candidate may collect and spend only seed money contributions subsequent to becoming a candidate as defined by subdivision 2801(1) of this title and prior to certification.  Unless excluded from the definition of contribution set forth in subdivision 2801(3) of this title, all goods and services received prior to certification shall be paid for with seed money contributions.  Prior to certification, a candidate may obligate an amount greater than the seed money collected for goods and services but may only receive that portion of goods and services which has been paid for or will be paid for with seed money.  A candidate may not solicit, accept, or collect seed money contributions after certification under this chapter.  A certified candidate may use any unspent seed money remaining after certification to make campaign-related expenditures subject to the same restrictions and guidelines for expenditures of fund revenues, except that a certified candidate may use unspent seed money to pay for goods and services received prior to certification.  It shall be a violation of this chapter for a candidate to use fund revenues received after certification to pay for goods and services received prior to certification.  A participating candidate who has accepted contributions or made expenditures that do not comply with the seed money restrictions under this chapter may petition the secretary of state to remain eligible for certification under this chapter, if the failure to comply was unintentional and does not constitute a significant infraction of these restrictions.

(e)(1)  Qualifying contributions.  Participating candidates shall obtain qualifying contributions during the qualifying period as follows:

(A)  For a candidate for the office of state senator, at least 150 verified registered voters from the candidate’s electoral division shall support the candidacy by providing a qualifying contribution to that candidate; or

(B)  For a candidate for the office of state representative, at least 50 verified registered voters from the candidate’s electoral division shall support the candidacy by providing a qualifying contribution to that candidate.

(2)  A payment, gift, or anything of value may not be given in exchange for a qualifying contribution.  A candidate may pay the fee for a money order in the amount of $5.00, which is a qualifying contribution, as long as the donor making the qualifying contribution pays the $5.00 amount reflected on the money order.  Any money order fees paid by a participating candidate shall be paid for with seed money and reported in accordance with secretary of state rules.  A money order shall be signed by the contributor to be a valid qualifying contribution.  The secretary of state may adopt by rule a procedure for a qualifying contribution to be made by a credit or debit transaction and by electronic funds transfer over the internet.

(3)  It shall be a violation of this chapter for a candidate or an agent of the candidate to misrepresent to a potential contributor the nature and purpose of a qualifying contribution or the purpose of obtaining the contributor’s signed acknowledgement.

(f)  Filing with secretary of state.  A participating candidate shall submit qualifying contributions, receipt and acknowledgement forms, proof of verification of voter registration, and a seed money report to the secretary of state during the qualifying period according to procedures adopted by the secretary of state.

(g)(1)  Certification of candidates.  Upon receipt of a final submission of qualifying contributions by a participating candidate, the secretary of state shall determine whether the candidate has:

(A)  Signed and filed a declaration of intent to participate in the Vermont campaign finance option;

(B)  Submitted the appropriate number of valid qualifying contributions;

(C)  Qualified as a candidate by petition or other means;

(D)  Not accepted contributions, except for seed money contributions, and otherwise complied with seed money restrictions;

(E)  Not run for the same office as a nonparticipating candidate in a primary election in the same election year;

(F)  Not been found to have made a material false statement in a report or other document submitted to the secretary of state;

(G)  Not had prior requests for certification denied or certification revoked on the basis of fraud or other substantial violations of this chapter;

(H)  Not failed to pay any civil penalty assessed under this title, except that a candidate shall have three business days from the date of the request for certification to pay an outstanding penalty and remain eligible for certification; and

(I)  Otherwise met the requirements for participation in the Vermont campaign finance option.

(2)  The secretary of state shall certify a candidate complying with the requirements of this section as soon as possible, but no later than three business days after final submission of qualifying contributions and other supporting documents required under this section.  The secretary of state may take additional time if further investigation is necessary to verify compliance with this subchapter, provided that the secretary of state shall notify the affected candidate regarding the anticipated schedule for conclusion of the investigation.

(3)  Failure by a certified candidate to comply with a requirement of this chapter is a violation of this chapter.

(h)(1)  Revocation of certification.  The certification of a participating candidate may be revoked at any time if the secretary of state determines that the candidate or an agent of the candidate:

(A)  did not submit the required number of valid qualifying contributions;

(B)  failed to qualify as a candidate by petition or other means;

(C)  submitted a fraudulent qualifying contribution or a qualifying contribution that was not made by the named contributor;

(D)  misrepresented to a contributor the nature and purpose of the qualifying contribution or the reason for obtaining a contributor’s signature on the receipt and acknowledgement form;

(E)  failed to fully comply with the seed money restrictions;

(F)  knowingly accepted a contribution, including any in-kind contribution, or used funds other than fund revenues distributed under this chapter to make campaign-related expenditures without the permission of the secretary of state;

(G)  knowingly made a false statement or material misrepresentation in any report or other document required to be filed under this chapter; or

(H)  otherwise substantially violated the provisions of this chapter.

(2)  The secretary of state shall provide notice before revoking the certification of a candidate.  A candidate whose certification is revoked shall return all unspent funds to the secretary of state within three days of the secretary of state’s decision and may be required to return all funds distributed to the candidate.  In addition to the requirement to return funds, the candidate may be subject to a civil penalty under section 2806 of this title.  The candidate may appeal the secretary of state’s decision to revoke certification, in the same manner provided in subsection (s) of this section.

(i)  Restrictions on contributions and expenditures for certified candidates. After certification, a candidate shall limit the candidate’s campaign expenditures and obligations, including outstanding obligations, to the revenues distributed to the candidate from the fund and any unspent seed money remaining after certification, and may not accept any contributions unless specifically authorized by the secretary of state.  Candidates may also accept and spend interest earned on fund revenues in campaign bank accounts. All revenues distributed to a certified candidate from the fund shall be used for campaign-related purposes.  The candidate, the treasurer, the candidate’s committee, or any agent of the candidate and committee may not use these revenues for any but campaign-related purposes.  Candidates may not spend fund revenues on payments to the candidate, a member of the candidate’s immediate family, or a business or nonprofit entity affiliated with the candidate, except to make payment for goods or property provided to the candidate’s campaign.  Services provided to the campaign by members of the candidate’s immediate family shall be provided on a volunteer basis and may not be paid for or reimbursed by the campaign with fund revenues.  The secretary of state shall publish guidelines outlining permissible campaign‑related expenditures.

(j)  Assisting a person to become an opponent.  A candidate or a person who later becomes a candidate and who is seeking certification under subsection (g) of this section or an agent of that candidate may not assist another person in qualifying as a candidate for the same office if such candidacy would result in the distribution of revenues under subsections (k) and (n) of this section for certified candidates in a contested election.

(k)(1)  Timing of fund distribution.  The secretary of state shall distribute to certified candidates revenues from the fund in amounts determined under subsection (m) of this section in the following manner:

(A)  Within three days after certification, for candidates certified prior to the date on which primary petitions must be filed under section 2356 of this title, revenues from the fund shall be distributed as if the candidates are in an uncontested primary election.

(B)  Within three days after certification, for all candidates certified on or after the date on which primary petitions must be filed under section 2356 of this title, revenues from the fund shall be distributed according to whether the candidate is in a contested or uncontested primary election.

(C)  For candidates in contested primary elections receiving a distribution under subdivision (A) of this subdivision (1), additional revenues from the fund shall be distributed within three days of the date on which the opponent’s petition is filed.

(D)  No later than three days after the primary election results are certified, for general election certified candidates, revenues from the fund shall be distributed according to whether the candidate is in a contested or uncontested general election.

(2)  Funds may be distributed to certified candidates under this section by any mechanism that is expeditious, ensures accountability, and safeguards the integrity of the fund.

(l)  Deposit into account.  The candidate or candidate’s committee shall deposit all revenues from the fund in a campaign account with a bank or other financial institution.  The campaign funds shall be segregated from, and may not be commingled with, any other funds.

(m)(1)  Amount of fund distribution.  By July 1, 2009 and at least every two years after that date, the secretary of state shall determine the amount of funds to be distributed to participating candidates based on the type of election and office as follows:

(A)  For contested primary elections, the amount of revenues to be distributed is the average amount of campaign expenditures made by each winning candidate during all contested primary election races of the same district size for the immediately preceding three primary elections, as reported in the initial filing period subsequent to the primary election for the respective offices of state senator and state representative.

(B)  For uncontested primary elections, the amount of revenues distributed is the average amount of campaign expenditures made by each winning candidate during all uncontested primary election races of the same district size for the immediately preceding three primary elections, as reported in the initial filing period subsequent to the primary election for the respective offices of state senator and state representative.

(C)  For contested general elections, the amount of revenues distributed is the average amount of campaign expenditures made by each winning candidate during all contested general election races of the same district size for the immediately preceding three general elections, as reported in the initial filing period subsequent to the general election for the respective offices of state senator and state representative.

(D)  For uncontested general elections, the amount of revenues to be distributed from the fund is 40 percent of the amount distributed to a participating candidate in a contested general election.

(E)  A certified candidate who is an incumbent of the office being sought shall be entitled to receive a grant in an amount equal to 90 percent of the applicable amount listed in subdivision (A), (B), (C), or (D) of this subdivision (1), whichever is applicable.

(F)  An allocation from the fund to which a certified candidate would otherwise be entitled under this section shall be reduced by an amount equal to the aggregate amount of seed money contributions received by the candidate over the applicable limit set forth in subsection (b) of this section.

(2)  For purposes of this subsection, “district size” refers to the number of seats elected in that district.

(3)  If the immediately preceding election cycles do not yield sufficient electoral data, the secretary of state shall use information from the most recent applicable elections.

(n)  Matching funds.  When any report required under this chapter shows that the sum of a candidate’s expenditures or obligations, contributions, and loans, or fund revenues received, whichever is greater, in conjunction with independent expenditures reported under section 2855 of this title, exceeds the sum of an opposing certified candidate’s fund revenues, in conjunction with independent expenditures, the secretary of state shall issue immediately to the opposing certified candidate an additional amount equivalent to the difference. Matching funds are limited to twice the amount originally distributed under subsection (m) of this section.

(o)  Other procedures.  The secretary of state shall establish procedures for qualification, certification, disbursement of fund revenues, and return of unspent fund revenues for races involving special elections, recounts, vacancies, withdrawals, or replacement candidates.

(p)  Reporting; unspent revenue.  Notwithstanding any other provision of law, participating and certified candidates shall report any money collected, all campaign expenditures, obligations, and related activities to the secretary of state according to procedures developed by the secretary of state.  Upon the filing of a final report for any primary election in which the candidate was defeated and for all general elections, that candidate shall return all unspent fund revenues to the secretary of state.  In developing these procedures, the secretary of state shall utilize existing campaign reporting procedures whenever practicable.  The secretary of state shall ensure timely public access to campaign finance data and may utilize electronic means of reporting and storing information.

(q)(1)  Required records.  The campaign treasurer shall obtain and keep:

(A)  Bank or other account statements for the campaign account covering the duration of the campaign;

(B)  A vendor invoice stating the particular goods or services purchased for every expenditure of $50.00 or more; and

(C)  A record proving that a vendor received payment for every expenditure of $50.00 or more in the form of a cancelled check, a receipt from the vendor, or a bank or credit card statement identifying the vendor as the payee.

(2)  The treasurer shall preserve the records for two years following the candidate’s final campaign finance report for the two-year general election cycle.  The candidate and treasurer shall submit photocopies of the records to the secretary of state upon his or her request.

(r)  Distributions not to exceed amount in fund.  The secretary of state may not distribute revenues to certified candidates in excess of the total amount of money deposited in the fund.  Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, if the secretary of state determines that the revenues in the fund are insufficient to meet distributions under subsections (k) and (n) of this section, the secretary of state shall distribute the revenues in the fund proportionally to anyone certified under this subchapter as of the beginning of the primary petition-filing period set forth in section 2356 of this title.  Certified candidates who do not receive the entire grant authorized by this subchapter because of a shortfall in revenues may accept and spend contributions subject to the limits set forth in section 2805 of this title, up to the applicable amounts set forth in subsections (m) and (n) of this section, reduced by any seed money contributions above the seed money limits set forth in subsection (b) of this section, according to procedures established by the secretary of state.

(s)(1)  Review.  A candidate who has been denied certification under this chapter or an opponent of a candidate who has been granted certification under this chapter may seek review of the decision of the secretary of state by filing a petition with the superior court in the county in which the candidate resides. Within 24 hours of the filing of a petition, the court shall schedule the petition for hearing.  Except for cases the court considers of greater importance, proceedings before the superior court, as authorized by this section, and appeals therefrom, shall take precedence on the docket over all cases and shall be assigned for hearing and trial or for argument at the earliest practicable date and expedited in every way.

(2)  A candidate whose certification is revoked on completion of these procedures shall return to the secretary of state any unspent revenues distributed from the fund.  If the court finds that a request for review or appeal was made frivolously or to cause delay or hardship, the court may require the moving party to pay costs of the secretary of state, court, and opposing parties, if any.

§ 2854.  QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTIONS REPORTS

(a)  In order to qualify for Vermont campaign finance grants, a candidate for the office of governor or lieutenant governor must obtain during the Vermont campaign finance qualification period the following amount and number of qualifying contributions for the office being sought:

(1)  For governor, a total amount of no less than $35,000.00 collected from no fewer than 1,500 qualified individual contributors making a contribution of no more than $50.00 each.

(2)  For lieutenant governor, a total amount of no less than $17,500.00 collected from no fewer than 750 qualified individual contributors making a contribution of no more than $50.00 each.

(b)  No candidate may accept more than one qualifying contribution from the same contributor and no contributor may make more than one qualifying contribution to the same candidate in any Vermont campaign finance qualification period.  For the purpose of this section, a qualified individual contributor means an individual who is registered to vote in Vermont.  No more than 25 percent of the total number of qualified individual contributors may be residents of the same county.

(c)  Each qualifying contribution must indicate the name and town of residence of the contributor, the date received, and be acknowledged by the signature of the contributor.

(d)  A candidate may retain and expend qualifying contributions obtained under this section.  A candidate may expend the qualifying contributions for the purpose of obtaining additional qualifying contributions and may expend the remaining qualifying contributions during the primary and general election periods. Amounts expended under this subsection shall be considered expenditures for purposes of this chapter.

(a)  In addition to other reports required by law, a candidate for the office of state senator or state representative who is not certified under this subchapter and who receives contributions or makes expenditures aggregating in excess of the primary or general election distribution amounts for a certified candidate in the same race shall file by any means acceptable to the secretary of state, within 48 hours of that event, a report with the secretary of state detailing the candidate’s total campaign contributions, including any campaign balance from a previous election, obligations, and expenditures to date.

(b)  A nonparticipating candidate who is required to file a report required under subsection (a) of this section shall file the following additional reports detailing the candidate’s total campaign contributions, including any campaign balance from a previous election, and expenditures to date, unless the date the report is due occurs prior to the filing of the report required under subsection (a) of this section:

(1)  A report filed not later than 5:00 p.m. on the 40th day before the date on which an election is held and complete as of the 42nd day before that date;

(2)  A report filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 25th day before the date on which an election is held and complete as of the 27th day before that date;

(3)  A report filed no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 12th day before the date on which an election is held and complete as of the 14th day before that date;

(4)  A report filed no later than 24 hours after the nonparticipating candidate makes additional expenditures or receives additional contributions aggregating $200.00 or more during the 13 days before the date on which the election is held, to the extent not previously reported under this section.

§ 2855.  VERMONT CAMPAIGN FINANCE GRANTS; AMOUNTS;

              TIMING REPORT; INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURES

(a)  To the extent funds are available, the secretary of state shall make grants from the Vermont campaign fund in separate grants for the primary and general election periods to candidates who have qualified for Vermont campaign finance grants under this subchapter.

(b)  Whether a candidate has entered a primary or is an independent candidate, Vermont campaign finance grants shall be in the following amounts:

(1)  For governor, $75,000.00 in a primary election period and $225,000.00 in a general election period, provided that the grant for a primary election period shall be reduced by an amount equal to the candidate’s qualifying contributions.

(2)  For lieutenant governor, $25,000.00 in a primary election period and $75,000.00 in a general election period, provided that the grant for a primary election period shall be reduced by an amount equal to the candidate’s qualifying contributions.

(3)  A candidate who is an incumbent of the office being sought shall be entitled to receive a grant in an amount equal to 85 percent of the amount listed in subdivision (1) or (2) of this subsection.

(c)  In an uncontested general election and in the case of a candidate who enters a primary election and is unsuccessful in that election, an otherwise eligible candidate shall not be eligible for a general election period grant.  However, such candidate may solicit and accept contributions and make expenditures as follows: contributions shall be subject to the limitations of section 2805 of this title and expenditures shall be limited to an amount equal to the amount of the grant set forth in subsection (b) of this section for the general election for that office.

(d)  Grants awarded in a primary election period, but not expended by the candidate in the primary election period, may be expended by the candidate in the general election period.

(e)  If the Vermont campaign fund contains insufficient revenues to provide Vermont campaign finance grants to all candidates under this section, the available funds shall be distributed proportionately among all qualifying candidates.  If grants are reduced under this subsection, a candidate may solicit and accept additional contributions equal to the amount of the difference between the amount of the Vermont campaign finance grants authorized and the amount received under this section.  Additional contributions authorized under this subsection shall be governed by the provisions of sections 2805 and 2853 of this title.

(f)  Vermont campaign finance grants for a primary election period shall be paid to qualifying candidates within the first ten business days of the primary election period.  Vermont campaign finance grants for a general election period shall be paid to qualifying candidates during the first ten business days of the general election period.

(a)  When a single source, other than a candidate or candidate’s committee, political committee, or political party, in any contested election in which a certified candidate is running, makes expenditures, other than by contribution to a candidate or candidate’s committee, for an electioneering communication, with respect to that election contest, the following reporting requirements shall apply:

(1)  If expenditures for electioneering communications exceed $1,000.00 in the aggregate, the single source, political committee, or political party making the expenditures shall, within 48 hours, file a report with the secretary of state under subdivision (4) of this subsection, if the $1,000.00 threshold is exceeded prior to 40 days before an election.

(2)  If expenditures for electioneering communications exceed $500.00 in the aggregate, and have not been reported previously to the secretary of state, the single source, political committee, or political party making the expenditures shall, within 24 hours, file a report with the secretary of state under subdivision (4) of this subsection, if the $500.00 threshold is exceeded prior to 30 days before the election.

(3)  If expenditures for electioneering communications exceed $200.00 in the aggregate, and have not been reported previously to the secretary of state, the single source, political committee, or political party making the expenditures shall, within 24 hours, file a report with the secretary of state under subdivision (4) of this subsection, if the $200.00 threshold is exceeded within 20 days prior to an election.

(4)  A report required by this subsection shall contain an itemized account of the expenditures aggregating in excess of the applicable threshold amount under subdivision (1), (2), or (3) of this subsection, the date and purpose of each expenditure, and the name of each payee or creditor.  The report shall state whether the expenditure is in support of or in opposition to the candidate identified in the communication and shall include, under penalty of perjury, a statement under oath or affirmation whether the expenditure was made in cooperation, consultation, or concert with or at the request or suggestion of a candidate or an authorized committee or agent of a candidate.

(b)  The penalties provided under section 2806 of this title shall not apply to a first-time violation of this section by a single source or political committee that is not organized for the primary purpose of influencing elections for state office if the violation was inadvertent and if the required reports were made within seven calendar days of any notice provided by the secretary of state, attorney general, or state’s attorney of noncompliance with the provisions of this section.

§ 2856.  VERMONT CAMPAIGN FUND

(a)  A Vermont campaign fund is created for distribution of Vermont campaign finance grants to candidates for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor state senator and state representative.  The fund shall be administered by the state treasurer, and payments shall be made under warrants issued by the secretary of state.

(b)  The fund shall consist of revenues from the following sources:

(1)  Any amounts required to be deposited in the fund under section 2853 of this title qualifying contributions required under subsection 2853(e) of this title when those contributions are submitted to the secretary of state.

(2)  Fund revenues that were distributed to a certified candidate and that remain unspent after the candidate has lost a primary election or after the general election.

(3)  Other unspent fund revenues distributed to a certified candidate who does not remain a candidate throughout the two-year general election cycle.

(4)  All penalties and fines levied for violations of this chapter.

(3)(5)  Forty 40 percent of the amounts paid as annual report fees by domestic corporations under subdivision 1.22(a)(17) of Title 11A and 33 percent of the amounts paid as annual report fees by foreign corporations under subdivision 1.22(a)(16) of Title 11A.

(4)  All amounts collected from the tax on lobbying expenditures imposed under 2 V.S.A. § 264a.

(5)(6)  All amounts collected under section 5862c of Title 32, the Vermont campaign fund add-on.

(6)  Any gifts received by the fund.

(7)  All amounts collected from the sale of unclaimed property pursuant to chapter 14 of Title 27.

(8)  Revenue from a tax checkoff program allowing a resident of the state who files a tax return with the state treasurer to designate that $5.00 be paid into the fund.  The checkoff shall not increase the tax liability of the filer or of the filer’s spouse or civil union partner.  If spouses or civil union partners file a joint return, each spouse or civil union partner may designate that $5.00 be paid into the fund.  The state treasurer shall report annually the amount designated for the fund and shall transfer that amount to the fund.

(9)  Any amounts appropriated to the Vermont campaign fund by act of the general assembly.

(c)  All principal and interest remaining in the fund at the close of any fiscal year shall not revert but shall remain in the fund for use in succeeding fiscal years.

(d)  By January 15 of an election year, the secretary of state shall determine whether the fund will have sufficient revenues to cover the likely demand for funds from the Vermont campaign fund in an upcoming election and shall provide a report of its projections of the balances in the Vermont campaign fund to the general assembly and the governor.

Sec. 3.  EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect upon passage, except Sec. 2 shall take effect as of the beginning of the two-year general election cycle for the 2010 general election.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us