National groups supply almost half of money in governor's race

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Almost $4.5 million has been invested in the two major party candidates in Vermont's closely watched gubernatorial race so far — nearly half of which has come from national political groups.

According to reports filed with the secretary of state's office, Democratic nominee Sue Minter's campaign holds the financial edge over Republican Phil Scott.

In the last reporting period — essentially the month of September — Minter brought in $374,000, while Scott raised $226,000.

In total, Minter's campaign has raised more than $1.5 million this election cycle, including during the primary, while Scott has brought in $1.2 million. Minter has also received donations from nearly 4,000 contributors throughout, while Scott reports roughly 2,800 supporters.

(Minter returned $1,000 from one donor, a lawyer from Jay named Charles Leamy, on Sept. 17. The reimbursement came shortly after Leamy was named in an EB-5 related lawsuit filed by two Chinese investors. The suit was eventually dropped.)

Going into the last month of the campaign, Minter has more cash on hand, approximately $200,000, compared with $128,000 for Scott.

While Scott has lagged in campaign fundraising — even though he is accepting corporate donations and Minter is not — the lieutenant governor is benefiting from a national Republican Party apparatus eager to retake the Golden Dome.

In a separate campaign finance report, A Stronger Vermont, a pro-Scott political action committee, reported receiving $1.3 million from the Republican Governors Association.

Of that amount, A Stronger Vermont has spent nearly $1.1 million for a half-dozen television ads in support of Scott. The ads — which began airing the day after Scott won his primary battle against Bruce Lisman — have recently taken a negative turn, tying Minter to outgoing Gov. Peter Shumlin.

A Stronger Vermont has also spent tens of thousands of dollars on mailers and surveys in support of Scott.

The RGA's top donors include Koch Industries ($2 million), Blue Cross Blue Shield ($1.5 million), mega-chain Wal-Mart ($475,000) and the drug giant Pfizer ($600,000), according to the Center For Responsive Politics.

Our Vermont — a PAC backed by the Democratic Governors Association — has invested $425,000 in support of Minter, a third the amount Scott has received from the RGA. Of that number, Our Vermont has spent $323,000 on media.

The DGA's top benefactors also include Blue Cross Blue Shield ($1.5 million), Wal-Mart ($520,00) and Pfizer ($686,000), as well as a number of powerful trade unions.

In the most recent campaign finance reports for the two candidates, a number of noteworthy donors show up.

For Scott, donors include local and national businesses such as Monsanto ($1,000), Walgreens ($1,000), tobacco company Altria Client Services ($1,000), AT&T ($1,000) and Anheuser-Busch ($1,000).

The Vermont companies supporting Scott include the Vermont Federal Credit Union ($1,000), Gillespie Fuels and Propane ($2,000), Shearer Automotive ($2,000) and Vermont Radiologists ($4,000). Three members of the Pizzagalli family, who own a large property firm in Burlington — have given a total of $11,000.

Scott's individual contributors include former Republican Gov. Jim Douglas ($1,000), former U.S. Senate candidate Rich Tarrant ($1,000), two-time losing gubernatorial candidate Ruth Dwyer ($1,000) and Lyman Orton of the Vermont Country Store ($4,000).

Donors in the most recent Minter report include a number of state political leaders, among them Rep. Tony Klein ($500), Sen. Claire Ayer ($500) and former Sen. Peter Galbraith ($200), one of her primary rivals. Jeff Shumlin, the governor's brother, who runs the family travel agency, has given Minter $3,600.

Minter received a combined $9,000 from a number of campaign committees and PACs connected to U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger and Burlington Rep. Kesha Ram. Democracy for America, the progressive political organization founded by former Gov. Howard Dean, gave Minter $2,500.

She received $4,000 from the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project, $4,000 from the Vermont State Employees' Association and $2,500 from Gun Sense Vermont.

Minter also raked in donations from high-profile out-of-state supporters, including actors Danny DeVito ($2,700) and Jane Fonda ($2,700). Former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, who lost the 1988 presidential race to George H.W. Bush, gave Minter $250.

Correction: The Pizzagalli family no longer owns PC Construction; it is now employee owned.


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