VPIRG, Pollina Split on Campaign Finance

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(Host) The Vermont Public Interest Research Group has broken with Anthony Pollina, its former top lobbyist, over campaign finance reform.

Pollina worked for VPIRG and helped draft the state’s campaign finance reform law. He ran for governor in 2000 as a Progressive Party candidate and received public funds to run his campaign. Now Pollina is running for lieutenant governor and has challenged the law in federal court.

VPIRG Executive Director Paul Burns says his organization will defend the law against attacks by Republicans, Democrats ¿ and Progressives:

(Burns) "I think our position remains consistent. That is, we worked hard to pass the law to begin with and since the day it passed we’ve been working hard to defend against whoever is attacking it for whatever reason. And this is one more example of where we will join many, many others in supporting campaign finance reform and opposing an attempt important provisions of the law unconstitutional."

(Host) A federal judge last week refused to halt a state investigation into whether Pollina qualifies for public funds for his 2002 campaign. But Pollina’s lawsuit that challenges contribution limits is still alive. Burns says if the Progressives prevail, the law will be severely weakened:

(Burns) "I think if the Progressive Party lawsuit were to be successful, it would have significant and very, very negative effects on our campaign financing law and the public financing system in Vermont. There are people around the country that look to Vermont as a leader on this issue. And if we were to immediately allow unlimited political party contributions to candidates, even those accepting public financing, I think our law would lose almost all meaning."

(Host) Pollina says he’s willing to work with the Legislature to revise the law.

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