On May 30, 2007, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas vetoed S. 164, which would have placed limits on contributions similar to the limits that the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional in 2006. The consequence of the governor's action is that Vermont elections will continue to be conducted under state campaign finance laws in effect before 1997. However, on July 11, 2007, the state legislature is planning an attempt to override the veto, which would require a two-thirds majority vote in both state houses.
The vetoed law would have capped contributions to gubernatorial candidates at $1,000 per election; to other state-wide candidates at $750; to state Senate candidates at $500; and to state House candidates at $250. It also would have limited any single source from contributing more than $20,000 in any two year general election cycle. According to the governor's veto message, the proposed limits placed improper obstacles before challengers and non-wealthy candidates, improperly failed to set any limits on PAC contributions, and was far too similar to the law that the Supreme Court has just recently overturned.
As we provided in our September 2006 newsletter (www.wileyrein.com/electionlawnews_vermont), Vermont law currently allows all non-political parties and political committees to contribute up to $1,000 per election to candidates or candidate committees and $2,000 per election cycle to political parties and political committees. Political committees may contribute up to $3,000 per election to candidates or candidate committees. Political parties may make unlimited contributions to candidates or candidate committees.