Political Action Committees in Vermont
Under Vermont law, a political action committee (PAC) is “any formal or informal committee of two or more individuals or a corporation, labor organization, public interest group, or other entity, not including a political party, which accepts contributions of $1,000.00 or more and makes expenditures of $1,000.00 or more in any two-year general election cycle for the purpose of supporting or opposing one or more candidates, influencing an election, or advocating a position on a public question in any election, and includes an independent expenditure-only political committee.” 17 V.S.A. §2901(13).
Any PAC that raises $1,000 or more and spends $1,000 or more within any two-year general election cycle must register with the Office of the Secretary of State and file all regularly required disclosure reports.
Independent Expenditure-Only PACs
Vermont law defines an independent expenditure-only PAC as “a political committee that conducts its activities entirely independent of candidates; does not give contributions to candidates, political committees, or political parties; does not make related expenditures; and is not closely related to a political party or to a political committee that makes contributions to candidates or makes related expenditures.”
Currently, contribution limits do not apply to independent expenditure-only PACs. The contribution limits will not apply to these “IE-only” PACs unless and until the final disposition of a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit or the U.S. Supreme Court holds that limits on contributions to independent expenditure-only political committees are constitutional.
Although the contribution limits do not apply to independent expenditure-only PACs, these PACs must register with the Office of the Secretary of State within 10 days of reaching the threshold and must file all regularly required disclosure reports.
Federal and Out-of-State PACs or Political Parties
Any PAC that reaches the $1,000 raising and spending threshold must register with the the Office of the Secretary of State, regardless of where the treasurer or principal place of business of the PAC or party is located. A PAC or political party with a principal place of business outside of Vermont or whose treasurer is not located in Vermont must file a statement with the Office of the Secretary of State designating a person who resides in the state as the representative for the PAC.
Since Vermont law limits contributions to political committees (PACs) to $2,000 or less in a two-year general election cycle, any political committee (PAC) that receives contributions greater than $2,000 is prohibited from making contributions to Vermont candidates unless it segregates the compliant contributions for use in Vermont.
PACs Operating in Local Elections
Any PAC that has accepted contributions and made expenditures of $1,000 or more for the purpose of influencing a local election or supporting or opposing one or more candidates in a local election must register with the Office of the Secretary of State and file campaign finance reports thirty days before, ten days before, and two weeks after the local election.