Bill would let candidates draw campaign salary

by Guy Page

H363, a bill introduced into the Vermont House on Feb. 26, would “permit a candidate for statewide office to receive a salary from the candidate’s campaign funds.”

The bill applies to candidates for statewide office only – not legislators. At present, candidates for Vermont office – statewide, legislative, and local – may pay campaign staff salaries but may not draw a salary themselves. Vermont candidates for federal office, including the two senate seats and lone Congressional seats, already are permitted to draw campaign salaries. A petition filed Monday would expand on that federal rule, including setting a minimum salary for candidates.

H363 was sponsored by Rep. Mary Howard, a Rutland Democrat. As proposed, it provides the following restrictions:

  • the salary must not exceed the salary the candidate received as earned income in the previous year
  • the candidate has obtained the required number of petition signatures
  • a candidate must provide income tax records and additional proof of earnings from relevant years to the State’s Attorney or the Attorney General upon request;
  • payments of salary payments must be made on a pro-rata basis (a candidate may not receive a whole year’s salary if the candidate is not a candidate for statewide office for an entire twelve-month period).

On April 13, Gov. Phil Scott signed into law H10, which allows all candidates – including legislators – to compensate themselves for personal expenses (such as childcare) from their campaign fund. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford), Chair of the House Government Operations Committee. It sailed through the House and Senate with little comment and was signed promptly by the governor.

Both H363 and H10 would allow campaign donors – including special interests advocating legislation – to indirectly provide financial compensation to candidates, including incumbents. It’s up to the state’s courts to decide whether this compensation violates Chapter II, Section 12 of the Vermont Constitution: “No member of the General Assembly shall, directly or indirectly, receive any fee or reward, to bring forward or advocate any bill, petition, or other business to be transacted in the Legislature; or advocate any cause, as counsel in either House of legislation, except when employed in behalf of the State.”

Expanding candidates’ abilities to derive financial benefit from campaign funds would tend to support candidates likely to hold office and can exert immediate influence on issues of interest to advocacy organizations. For example, the campaign of a longterm incumbent in a “safe” district is generally more likely to receive advocacy group funding than a little-known challenger.

Categories: Legislation

11 replies »

  1. Wow a provision to make politics a “profession” even if they are never elected to anything ? Welfare for politicians ! Do these people have any moral scruples at all ? Oh, never mind, I forgot we are talking about politicians……..

  2. Circumventing election laws by using contributions for personal use – make a law to deem contributions as salary. They do it now and before anyway, but tidy up the loose ends so they can do it w/o penalty or integrity. Hogs at the trough. No end to their greed, they want it all.

  3. Cool . they are sworn to up hold the Constitution so they Pass Unconstitutional Crap , and Make the Corrupt Courts Rule on it .. Were their not More Pressing crisis es at this Time people would fix their Little red Wagon .. . It wont be long , and we will Call out every Last one of the Government and Make them Chose sides . No more Riding the Fence . Power to the People

  4. Wow nothing like screwing over the citizens. Zuckerman did it and laughed about it. Sanders does it and rubbed it in our faces, he still does it. The legislator’s are the worse. Hell the democrats are helping themselves to the care package. that was meant to help the people and the small businesses. But the Legislators made sure their pet projects came first along with their friends projects A lot of businesses have closed and people losing their homes because of this. and now they want to be paid for running for office.. NO WAY!!! Pay out of their own pockets and while they are running for office they do NOT get a paycheck for no doing their job. When Sanders was running for President he still got his pay even tho he didn’t show up most of the time for voting on bills. These fools are getting 2 sets of money, millions from donors and a fat check from the taxpayers. Can you say CROOKS.. C-R-O-O-K-S !!!!!

  5. My initial reaction was “unbelievable” but the reality is that it is not-surprising that they would vote themselves more money and benefits. Is there not some sort of conflict of interest law being broken here, let alone the Vermont Constitution. Of course they’ll all claim the don’t take “special interest” in the desires of the Special Interest groups that will be paying them. Sickened by our government, on al levels, is a better description of how I feel.

  6. But of course double dipping for those already in office out selling their untruths! This legislation is like the gift that keeps on kicking!

  7. If the Legislature wants to propose such a costly and corruption-promoting bureaucratic nightmare, it would be quickly revoked as soon as it is seen to benefit OTD (other than democrats). Many elected officials already under current law have their snouts and that of their family members in the trough of their campaign accounts. Current law prohibits any inducement to sway someone to vote a particular way so it only makes sense that there should be no financial inducement to run for office.
    The only real change we need regarding candidates for office in Vermont is to prohibit any indication of party affiliation on the ballot so people actually have to do some homework to decide who to vote for…that and require all voters come in to the polling place in person on election day and prove who they are with a govt photo ID. Requiring an ID is NOT RACIST!

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