Lawmakers ready to challenge Douglas on campaign finance reform

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(HOST) It appears that lawmakers are ready to challenge Governor Jim Douglas once again on the issue of campaign finance reform.

That’s because after several hours of debate, the House gave its approval late today to legislation that the Governor opposes. The vote was 89 to 41.

Last year, Douglas vetoed a similar bill, and the House sustained the veto by a one vote margin. Democratic leaders believe that they have the votes to override a possible veto this session.

Douglas objects to a provision in the bill that limits contributions by state and federal political parties to gubernatorial candidates. The new limit is 30 thousand dollars per election. Under current law there are no restrictions.

House majority leader Carolyn Partridge argued that it’s important to put some limits in place:

(Partridge) "What’s wrong with limiting the contributions made to a particular campaign and I haven’t heard the answer to that … I am going to support this bill because I think the bottom, line is we want to keep big money out of Vermont elections because of its potential corrupting influence."

(HOST) But House minority leader Steve Adams said the legislation will almost certainly be challenged in court if it becomes law. He noted that the state spent one and half million dollars unsuccessfully defending Vermont’s previous law:

(Adams) "We all have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers of the state of Vermont to spend their money wisely I don’t see defending another law before the Supreme court or any other court as spending our money wisely this bill is nothing more than a solution looking for a problem."

(HOST) Backers of the bill are hoping to take final action on the legislation in the near future so that it can be in place for this year’s election.

But it may face a gubernatorial veto and the outcome of a possible override vote is uncertain.



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