Flanagan defends spending in treasurer’s race

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(Host) One of the Democratic candidates for state treasurer says the news media isn’t covering the important issues in his campaign. Candidate Ed Flanagan complained Thursday that too much attention is being paid to how much money he’s spent, rather than on how he would run the office.

VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) The treasurer’s race has become the most heated contest of the early campaign season. Former state auditor Ed Flanagan faces former state senator Jeb Spaulding in next week’s primary.

Flanagan has funneled about $100,000 of his own money in the primary race. Flanagan’s spending is the highest ever in a race for a second tier office, such as state treasurer or auditor.

But Flanagan says his money and his campaign tactics are not the issue. He told reporters that he’s frustrated that so much attention is focused on his finances – and not the finances of the state.

(Flanagan) “I’m sincerely interested in the issues. And it’s like all I read about in the press are the horse race issues and the financial issues of the campaign. And I’ve spoken about that again and again. I’ve answered every question you pose. But I’ve yet to receive a question about the substance of my issues and the substance of this office.”

(Dillon) Flanagan says that he would use his office to push for good corporate behavior among the companies that the state invests in. He says he’d push to create jobs by asking banks to pay the state less in interest in exchange for giving Vermont businesses discounted loans.

But Flanagan also continued to attack Spaulding for supporting school vouchers. Spaulding says he doesn’t support vouchers and that Flanagan has misrepresented his record. Flanagan also charged that Spaulding would run the treasurer’s office in the same manner as current treasurer Jim Douglas.

(Flanagan) “My opponent in fact has cited Jim Douglas as the model he would follow if he were to be elected. I reject that model.”

(Dillon) But Spaulding says he’s never said he’d run the office like Douglas.

(Spaulding) “I don’t recall ever saying I wanted to emulate Jim Douglas. I believe it was me who was the one that responded immediately that it was unacceptable that we’ve been late reconciling our books four years in a row. I don’t plan to emulate anybody but myself as an as effective and vigilant state treasurer.”

(Dillon) Flanagan says he’ll continue to use his own money to fund his campaign if he wins next week’s primary. Spaulding, meanwhile, has lined up the endorsements of major Democrats for his candidacy.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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