Independent gubernatorial candidate Anthony Pollinaâ€™s campaign will review a hard copy of the Vermont pre-campaign finance reform law from 1997 tonight after learning several days ago from the secretary of stateâ€™s office it may have to return approximately $28,000 in campaign contributions due to his switch from the Progressive Party.
After reviewing Pollinaâ€™s July 31 campaign finance report, the Elections Director at the secretary of stateâ€™s office, Kathy DeWolfe, notified the campaign last week that some of his contributors exceeded the limit of what an individual can donate to an independent candidate.
Partisan candidates are permitted to receive donations of up to $2,000 from an individual, ostensibly $1,000 for their primary and $1,000 for the general election. After deciding to continue his candidacy as an independent rather than a Progressive candidate (IPR story here), Pollina is considered limited to the general election ceiling. “Approximately 34 individuals” have donated in excess of that amount. According to a parallel story in the Barre Montpelier Times Argus, the topic of a lower limit in contributions was not broached in the discussions leading up to the decision to go independent.
With less than $23,000 cash on hand, complying with the law as it’s been related to the campaign would have dire financial consequences. Though Assistant Attorney General Mark Shane has stated that no action against Pollina will be taken without a complaint concerning the donations, the campaign insists it will comply with the law once it resolves whether the State’s interpretation is correct. Commenting on that perceived ambiguity, Pollina campaign manager Meg Brook argued that the controversy presented an opportunity to demonstrates the flaws of the two-party system, remarking: “The laws are written through the lens to further that system and narrow the debate.”