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Election 2014

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Walters: Donovan Offers to Settle Corren Case

Posted By on Tue, Feb 7, 2017 at 2:51 PM

Dean Corren delivers a concession speech on election night in November 2014. - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Dean Corren delivers a concession speech on election night in November 2014.
Attorney General T.J. Donovan says he has made an "incredibly reasonable offer" to settle a long-running campaign finance case against Dean Corren, the 2014 Progressive/Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor. Corren's attorney, however, is not prepared to accept.

Corren qualified to fund his 2014 campaign through Vermont's public financing system, which imposes strict limits on any outside help for a participating candidate. At one point during the campaign, Corren asked the Vermont Democratic Party to send an email blast supporting his candidacy. After Corren's defeat, then-AG Bill Sorrell filed a civil complaint against Corren, alleging that the email constituted impermissible outside support.

Sorrell estimated the email's value at $255, but he sought a total of $72,000 in fines and restitution from Corren. The case was still open when Sorrell left office in January. When Donovan became AG, he launched a review of the matter and made the settlement offer "a couple of weeks ago," he says. Citing ongoing talks, Donovan would not disclose any details.

Corren's attorney, John Franco, is not in a settling mood.

The hangup is a separate federal lawsuit filed by Corren, the Vermont Progressive Party and four other Progressive politicians, alleging that Vermont's public financing law is unconstitutional in multiple respects. According to Franco, Donovan's settlement offer is a package: Take the deal and drop the federal case.

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Monday, August 31, 2015

Dean Corren Fights Campaign Finance Lawsuit in Federal Court

Posted By on Mon, Aug 31, 2015 at 6:16 PM

From left, Attorney John Franco, Vermont Progessive Party executive director Kelly Mangan and former lieutenant governor candidate Dean Corren outside U.S. District Court in Burlington - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • From left, Attorney John Franco, Vermont Progessive Party executive director Kelly Mangan and former lieutenant governor candidate Dean Corren outside U.S. District Court in Burlington
The attorney representing former Vermont lieutenant governor candidate Dean Corren told a judge Monday that a campaign finance lawsuit filed against Corren could have a chilling effect on candidates who want to use public financing in the future.

Corren, who ran on the Progressive and Democratic lines, appeared in U.S. District Court Monday in his fight against a Vermont Attorney General's Office lawsuit alleging that he violated campaign finance laws during his failed 2014 bid. Corren, who lost to Republican Phil Scott, received about $180,000 in public money for his campaign. As part of accepting public financing in Vermont, candidates agree not to seek contributions from outside sources.

Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrell alleges that Corren violated this law when he asked the Democratic Party to send out an email touting his candidacy to 19,000 people on the party's list. Sorrell sued Corren in state court, seeking to have him pay $72,000 in penalties. (The email itself has been valued at $255.)

Corren in turn sued Sorrell in federal court, seeking a ruling that the email did not represent a campaign contribution. Corren also claimed that certain aspects of Vermont's campaign rules governing public financing are illegal.

"Just because you take public money doesn't mean you leave your constitutional rights at the door," Corren's attorney, John Franco, said during the hearing. "We're up against an unconstitutional statute that requires us to self-censor."

The state court has delayed proceeding on Sorrell's lawsuit against Corren until the federal case is resolved. That could take several months and last into the legislative session and the 2016 campaign. 

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Shumlin Lies Low as House Prepares for Teacher Strike Vote

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2015 at 7:47 PM

Rep. Martin Lalonde (D-South Burlington), left, talks Tuesday about his proposal to ban teacher strikes. To his right are Reps. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington) and Kevin Christie (D-Hartford). - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Rep. Martin Lalonde (D-South Burlington), left, talks Tuesday about his proposal to ban teacher strikes. To his right are Reps. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington) and Kevin Christie (D-Hartford).
In the middle of a five-day teacher strike at the height of campaign season, Gov. Peter Shumlin declared last October that Vermont should prohibit teacher strikes.

But on the eve of a House vote to do just that, Shumlin is staying mostly mum.

“The governor has long supported the idea of prohibiting teacher strikes and board-imposed contracts, while requiring both sides to resolve differences through third party decision-making when negotiation fails,” spokesman Scott Coriell said in a statement Tuesday. “The details of how you do that are incredibly important and the governor will closely review any legislation that reaches his desk.”

Whether a bill will ever reach his desk is unclear. The House appears divided as members head into a vote Wednesday to decide whether prohibit teachers from striking and school boards from imposing contracts as of July 2016. Some Democrats, seeking to defang the bill, intend to introduce an amendment turning it into a study.

“It’s going to be close,” said Rep. Tom Stevens (D-Waterbury), who opposes ending the right to strike, arguing that removing that right shifts the balance of power to school boards.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Sorrell Accuses Corren of Campaign Finance Violations

Posted By on Thu, Mar 26, 2015 at 8:39 AM

Dean Corren delivers a concession speech on election night in November 2014. - FILE: MATTHEW THORSEN
  • File: Matthew Thorsen
  • Dean Corren delivers a concession speech on election night in November 2014.
A $255 email may cost 2014 lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Dean Corren $72,000. 

Attorney General Bill Sorrell accused Corren Wednesday of violating Vermont's campaign finance law last October when his campaign asked the Vermont Democratic Party to send a mass email on his behalf.

Because Corren had qualified for more than $180,000 in public financing earlier that year, the Progressive/Democrat was barred from soliciting further contributions. Sorrell alleged that the email, asking Democrats to support Corren and attend a campaign rally, amounted to an in-kind contribution.

At a press conference Wednesday afternoon at his Montpelier office, Sorrell said he'd filed suit earlier that day in Vermont Superior Court seeking to force Corren to return the roughly $52,000 in public funds his campaign had yet to spend on October 24, the day the email was sent. The attorney general said he would seek an additional $20,000 in fines for the alleged violation and for Corren's failure to report the expenditure in disclosure filings.

"Our legislature, in putting together this statute... said, 'Listen, if you're going to take the benefit, there are downsides: You have to play by the rules,'" Sorrell said. "And if you're not going to play by the rules, the penalties are significant."

Through a lawyer, John Franco, Corren disputed the allegations.

"This is really just a witch hunt by the attorney general," Franco said Wednesday. "Billy Sorrell wants to send Dean Corren to the gallows."

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Milne Calls on Legislature to Name Him Governor

Posted By on Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Scott Milne speaks to reporters Monday at the Statehouse. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • Scott Milne speaks to reporters Monday at the Statehouse.
Updated at 8:21 p.m. on 12/8/2014

The second-place finisher in last month's gubernatorial election called on the legislature Monday to name him governor in January.

Emerging from a month out of the limelight, Republican Scott Milne called his near-victory over Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin a rebuke of the incumbent's four years in office. He told reporters during a morning press conference at the Statehouse that he would press on in his bid to become governor, despite falling 2,434 votes short.

Since no candidate received a majority of the votes cast in last month's election, Vermont's constitution dictates that the legislature choose a governor from among the top three contenders. Shumlin won 46.4 percent, Milne 45.1 percent and Libertarian Dan Feliciano 4.4 percent.

Milne told reporters he believes legislators “will place the best interests of Vermont ahead of what is good for themselves or their political interests.”

"If I were one of them,” he continued, “I would very seriously consider a vote for Scott Milne."

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Milne 'Leaning' Toward Contesting Gubernatorial Election

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Scott Milne with his father, Donald, on election night. - OLIVER PARINI
  • Oliver Parini
  • Scott Milne with his father, Donald, on election night.
Updated at 1:56 p.m. with more from Scott Milne.

A month after his second-place finish in Vermont's gubernatorial campaign, Republican Scott Milne has again delayed his decision to contest the election in front of the legislature.

But the Pomfret businessman now says he’s “leaning” toward staying in the race until January.

“All options are on the table, but I’m leaning toward staying in,” Milne said Thursday afternoon.

Since no candidate won 50 percent of the vote, Vermont's constitution calls on the legislature to pick a governor from among the top three vote-getters. Typically, those who fail to win a plurality concede the race shortly after the election, but Milne says he may ask legislators to vote him in, despite the fact that he came in 2,434 votes short of Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin.

The day after the election, Milne scheduled and then canceled a press conference to announce his intentions. A week later, he said he would not seek a recount, but would take a week to decide whether to actively contest the race before the legislature. When that deadline passed, he said he would deliberate over the Thanksgiving holiday and announce his intentions this week.

On Thursday morning, he told Seven Days by text message that the announcement was "sliding into next week."

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

In Close Campaign, Shumlin Outspent Milne 4-to-1

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 7:48 PM

Vermont secretary of state's website - SCREENSHOT
  • Screenshot
  • Vermont secretary of state's website
Gov. Peter Shumlin spent nearly a million dollars in his quest for a third term and outspent Republican Scott Milne 4-to1, according to new filings released Tuesday.

But despite the tremendous cash advantage, the incumbent Democrat beat the political novice by just 2,434 votes. Since neither candidate reached the 50 percent threshold, the legislature will choose the next governor in January; Milne announced earlier Tuesday that he won't decide until next month whether to keep fighting.

The latest filings with the secretary of state's office cover the last two days of the campaign and the 13 days since Election Day. They show that Shumlin spent nearly $63,000 in that period, compared with $30,000 by Milne.

The governor's final expenses included a $37,000 payment to Klose Communications, the Washington, D.C., firm that produced his television ads, and $8,720 to Connecticut-based Mission Control, Inc., for direct mail. Milne's included a $6,340 check to Wyoming-based That Was Close, LLC, for a telephone town hall meeting he conducted the night before the election.

Throughout the two-year election cycle, Shumlin spent nearly $953,000. That's nearly three times the $329,000 he spent two years ago when he faced off against then-senator Randy Brock. And it's nearly four times the $241,000 Milne spent this time around. 

At that rate, Shumlin spent roughly $10.65 for every vote he received. Milne spent about $2.77 per vote.

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Scott Milne Announces Scott Milne Will Announce Later

Posted By on Tue, Nov 18, 2014 at 12:57 PM

Scott Milne reviews a campaign ad he filmed inside Vermont PBS studios in October. - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Scott Milne reviews a campaign ad he filmed inside Vermont PBS studios in October.
Pretty much nothing has gone according to script in Vermont’s bizarro/not-quite-over/only-got-interesting-after-Election Day gubernatorial race.

So we probably shouldn't be surprised by what went down this morning.

Republican Scott Milne was due to announce this week whether he will contest the race in the legislature, where lawmakers must chose the winner in January since neither he nor Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin cleared 50 percent on Election Day.

Late this morning, reporters across the state opened emails from the Milne camp, prepared to bring the public the news … and received yet another reminder that Scott Milne doesn’t give a flying cow pie about conventional wisdom.

Milne announced that he had no announcement.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Milne Won’t Seek Recount

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 11:49 AM

The state canvassing committee meets in Montpelier Wednesday to certify the 2014 election results. - PAUL HEINTZ
  • Paul Heintz
  • The state canvassing committee meets in Montpelier Wednesday to certify the 2014 election results.
Updated at 4:17 p.m.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne confirmed Wednesday afternoon that he will not seek a recount of ballots cast in last week’s razor-thin election.

Milne’s decision came hours after the statewide election canvassing committee met in Montpelier to certify the results. The group, which consists of Secretary of State Jim Condos and representatives of Vermont’s four major parties, confirmed that two-term Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin won 89,509 votes, Milne won 87,075 and Libertarian Dan Feliciano won 8,428.

“The certified numbers are in from the secretary of state, and I trust the canvassing committee performed this function competently,” Milne said in a written statement. “I trust that Peter Shumlin won the plurality.”

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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Scott Milne Leans Against Recount, Citing Long Odds

Posted By on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 5:14 PM

Republican gubenatorial candidate Scott Milne says he is disinclined to seek a recount of his narrow defeat to Gov. Peter Shumlin, deeming it a long shot that would still force him to go to the legislature to seek a potential victory.

Gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne - MARK DAVIS
  • Mark Davis
  • Gubernatorial candidate Scott Milne
While he will not make a formal announcement until tomorrow, Milne, who won 45.1 percent to Shumlin's 46.4 percent, said in an interview that he would need a "miracle" to overcome his current deficit of 2,400 votes. And he noted that, even if he pulled ahead, neither he nor Shumlin would clear a 50 percent total, which is legally required to avoid sending the decision to the legislature. 

"We're leaning toward 'probably not' with that," Milne said. "It probably won't work. Taxpayers would spend $60,000 for a recount where, even if by some miracle it worked, it's still going to the legislature."

Milne said he has not yet decided whether to contest the vote in the legislature. He has previously indicated he might ask legislators who represent districts that he carried on Election Day to vote for him. A Rutland Herald analysis concluded that, if lawmakers were to vote along those lines, the result would be a 90-90 tie

Traditionally, lawmakers have rubber-stamped the winner of the popular vote, with some exceptions. Vermont Public Radio reported that former governor Jim Douglas, one of the few Vermont Republicans whom Milne relied on for counsel during his campaign, has advised against contesting the vote.

But Milne, who had scant political experience before this race and received little help, said he will continue to trust his own judgment. He believes his strong showing on Election Day validated that. 

"I think I've done a good job of using my intuition as a starting point and combining that with talking to people, particularly people who aren't in media or political elite circles," Milne said. "I think that's served me pretty well."

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