Sanders declines spending limit on Congressional race

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(Host) Republican U.S. House candidate Bill Meub is calling on Congressman Bernie Sanders to accept a spending cap in their campaign. Sanders is rejecting that proposal because he’s concerned that the National Republican Party will spend a lot of money on Meub’s behalf.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) Vermont’s general election race for the state’s only U.S. House seat got underway on Friday. GOP candidate Bill Meub challenged incumbent Independent Congressman Bernie Sanders to accept a spending limit of $750,000 for their campaign. Sanders is seeking his seventh term as Vermont’s sole member of the House.

Meub says Sanders always talks about the need for campaign finance reform but never implements a voluntary system in his own congressional races:

(Meub) “He’s argued that it’s not right to buy elections. I agree – it’s not right to buy elections. He has had the right issue, now he has to live up to it. And all through this as we go through the rest of the other issues that I’m going to be confronting him with, he says one thing and then does another. And this is the first of that whole issue of saying one thing and doing another and this is to me the most important.”

(Kinzel) Sanders says he strongly supports the limits established in Vermont’s campaign finance reform law. That law is being currently being challenged in the federal court system. But until there’s a clear law that restricts the ability of political parties to contribute to individual campaigns, Sanders says he cannot agree to a cap that could give Meub a huge monetary advantage:

(Sanders) “But right now, as the only independent in the United States Congress, somebody who does not get money from the Republicans or Democrats or corporate America. So with the Republican Party sitting on millions of dollars and with the snap of a finger can send all kinds of money into the state of Vermont, no I cannot agree to a limit on the amount of money that can be spent.”

(Kinzel) There will be a third major party candidate in this race. Secretary of State Deb Markowitz said on Friday afternoon that a write-in effort to deny Jane Newton the Progressive Party’s nomination for the U.S. House has not been successful and that it’s very likely that Newton will be certified as the winner of the Progressive primary next week.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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