Campaign finance violation complaint filed against VPIRG Votes Action Fund

For Immediate Release
August 4, 2022

Contact
Sharon Toborg
(802) 249-6939

A campaign finance complaint was filed today with the Attorney General’s Office against VPIRG Votes Action Fund. The complaint presents evidence that VPIRG Votes Action Fund is closely related to VPIRG Votes, and therefore should not be allowed to claim it is an independent expenditure only PAC, or to continue to raise contributions in excess of the donation limit to regular PACs, as it reported doing on its August 1, 2022 campaign finance filing.

“VPIRG claims to advocate for strong campaign finance laws, yet it appears they are not even following existing laws.” stated Sharon Toborg, who filed the complaint. “If they really believe what they say they do, they should immediately dissolve VPIRG Votes Action Fund, and return the funds raised in violation of the law.”

Vermont law allows certain PACS, called independent expenditure-only PACS, to raise contributions in amounts that exceed the normal donation limits. 17 V.S.A. § 2901 defines an “independent expenditure-only PAC” as a PAC “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.” [emphasis added]

However, VPIRG Votes Action Fund is closely related to a PAC that makes contributions to candidates – namely VPIRG Votes. VPIRG Votes reported $7,000 of contributions to candidates in their August 1, 2022 campaign finance filing.

“If VPIRG Votes Action Fund will not come into compliance on their own, the Attorney General’s office needs to take swift action to be sure unlawful activity does not further influence our election.” Toborg added. “I don’t know how anyone could conclude that VPIRG Votes and VPIRG Votes Action Fund are not closely related.”

The complaint cites the clear evidence that VPIRG Votes Action Fund and VPIRG Votes are closely related:

  • The similarity of their names indicates a relationship
  • Both PACS are located in the same building
  • They both receive email through the same domain name. The email address for the VPIRG Votes Action Fund is actionfund@vpirgvotes.org; the email address for VPIRG Votes is info@vpirgvotes.org
  • The Treasurer of VPIRG Votes Action Fund, Mia Moore, is a member of the Advisory Board of VPIRG Votes.
  • On the VPIRG Votes Action Fund PAC registration statement, Mia Moore lists her phone number as (802) 223-5221. The VPIRG Votes PAC registration statement lists their organization’s phone number as also being (802) 223-5221.
  • www.vpirgvotes.org/endorsements shows many endorsed candidates. All are listed as “VPIRG Votes endorsed” underneath a picture of the candidate. In addition, in a circle around each candidate, it states that the candidate is “VPIRG Votes endorsed,” or in the case of statewide candidates, “VPIRG Votes Action Fund Endorsed.” No independent listing of candidates endorsed by VPIRG Votes Action Fund could be found in an internet search.

About Sharon Toborg: I am a long-time Vermont political activist with a particular interest in seeing that Vermont’s campaign finance laws are followed and applied fairly. As a PAC treasurer myself, I have a solid understanding of the law, and use that knowledge to try and ensure transparency and prevent campaign finance violations, hopefully before they unlawfully affect the outcome of elections. I have filed numerous campaign finance complaints over the years to that end, most of which have resulted in the Attorney General’s office taking enforcement action.

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