Tag Archives: Citizens United

Campaign finance according to Deb Bucknam

The Republican candidate for Attorney General, Deb Bucknam, has a… shall we say unique… approach to the issue of money in politics. The problem, in her eyes, isn’t corporate donations or Citizens United or the Koch Brothers or dark-money SuperPACs or outside interests flooding Vermont with their barely regulated and lavishly funded nonprofits.

None of that. The real problem is Pat Leahy.

Hey. You in the back, stop laughing.

Bucknam laid out her reasoning, if that’s what you can call it, in an interview with Chris Lenois of Brattleboro’s WKVT Radio. (The interview also ran on Brattleboro’s community access cable channel and can be seen here.)

It should be noted that elsewhere, Bucknam has offered a full-throated defense of the Citizens United decision. In fact, she claims that overturning Citizens United would inevitably involve limiting the First Amendment rights of all Americans.

Back to the Lenois interview. He asked a question about regulating money in politics.  She began by asserting that money is a necessary part of politics and trying to regulate it is doomed to failure. But she sees one ray of hope:

If we limited — not donors so much — but candidates themselves, how a candidate can spend the money they receive, that may help solve the money in politics problem.

At this point, I was honesty puzzled. What in the Sam Hill was she driving at?

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Right to Life might want to hire a proofreader (UPDATED)

UPDATE: I got this wrong. According to Sharon Torborg of the Right to Life Fund, state law requires that any name mentioned in campaign material must be reported on the Secretary of State’s mass media form. RTL endorsed Carolyn Branagan for Senate, and also mentioned the other two Republican candidates, Norm McAllister and Dustin Degree.

The Right to Life Fund is not endorsing Norm McAllister. My apologies to Ms. Torborg and the rest of the RTL crew. 

There’s a couple things I’m getting really tired of, as the primary campaigns enter the homestretch. The first is candidates whining about “Washington-style” attack ads. C’mon, folks, even in Vermont, politics ain’t beanbag.

The second is candidates bemoaning an influx of out-of-state money on behalf of their opponents — especially when the moaners are getting major outside backing themselves. None of these people are pure as the driven snow, and their complaints ring hollow in my ears.

So I don’t have much to say about the ex-Bear Stearns executives creating a Super PAC in support of Bruce Lisman, or EMILY’s List pouring $100K into pro-Minter ads, or a Silicon Valley tycoon spending twice as much for Matt Dunne. It’s the way the game is played in our post-Citizens United world, and any politico not named Bernie Sanders is practicing unilateral disarmament if they don’t take advantage of every available resource, The Vermont Way be damned.

But there is one recent mass-media spending report that should not pass unnoticed. It involves far less money, but there are a couple of things you should know.

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Milne for Senate?

Curious item landed in my inbox this morning: an email from Scott Milne.

Well, not a personal email — it was a blast message to his mailing list, entitled:

Scott Milne challenges Pat Leahy to get money out of politics.

The message slams Leahy for holding a fundraising event over the weekend, at which attendees were (according to Milne) charged “$5,000 for face time with Vermont’s senior Senator.” Milne compares this unfavorably with Leahy’s predecessor, St. George Aiken, who “spent $17.09 on his entire last campaign for the Senate in 1968 [and] spent a total $4,423.03 for all six of his U.S. Senate campaigns combined.”

Well, in 1968 Aiken occupied both the Republican and Democratic slots on the ballot, and managed to win re-election with, ahem, 99.9 percent of the vote, which makes me think he wasted seventeen bucks. The bulk of his career took place when the GOP absolutely ruled the roost in Vermont. But I can just hear Milne say, “Leahy is as bulletproof as Aiken; why raise money at all?” To which Leahy would reasonably reply, “In politics, you never know.” Especially since conservative groups have begun to spend money on Vermont elections. It’s only prudent for Leahy to build up a warchest.

But the biggest question raised by Milne’s email is simply, Why? Why is he attacking Pat Leahy?

If this were any politician not named Scott Milne, the answer would be obvious: he’s going to run for U.S. Senate. In Milne’s case, it might simply mean he got out of bed this morning and decided to write a letter.

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