April 20, 2013

Vermont settles suit over governor's race

The state said the Republican Governors Association coordinated its efforts illegally.

The Associated Press

MONTPELIER, Vt. - The state of Vermont settled a lawsuit Friday that claimed the Republican Governors Association and the state's losing 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate, Brian Dubie, improperly shared polling data, causing the RGA to exceed Vermont's campaign spending limits, Attorney General William Sorrell said Friday.

As part of the settlement, the RGA will pay a civil penalty of $30,000. Dubie will pay a civil penalty of $10,000 and make a $10,000 contribution to the Vermont Foodbank.

"It sends a message and an example for campaigns and PACS going forward," Sorrell said Friday.

The RGA used the daily polling information collected by the Dubie campaign to create and broadcast television and radio advertising that supported Dubie that was valued at $242,000, Sorrell said.

Under Vermont law, political action committees are limited to $6,000 in contributions to candidates.

"The RGA clearly bears more responsibility here. Brian Dubie's campaign staff erred in accommodating the RGA's request for polling data," said Sorrell.

The RGA said it did not break any laws.

"As the Vermont attorney general recognized in the settlement, the RGA acted in good faith, and we maintain that no laws were violated," said RGA spokesman Jon Thompson. "Rather than incur litigation costs for the next two years, the RGA elected to resolve this matter amicably."

Dubie could not be reached for comment on Friday.

The lawsuit claimed that during the campaign to replace retiring Gov. Jim Douglas, the Dubie campaign gave daily tracking poll data to the RGA that was not shared with the public.

Shortly afterward, the RGA used information from the polls to create and run three different ads that supported the Dubie campaign.

The attorney general's office filed suit in December 2011 after receiving a complaint from the Vermont Democratic Party on Oct. 21, 2010.

Sorrell said that two other campaign finance lawsuits from the 2010 campaign are pending before the Vermont Supreme Court.


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