Progressives join Corren public financing lawsuit

  April Burbank, Free Press Staff Writer2:54 p.m. EDT June 5, 2015

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The Vermont Progressive Party announced Friday that it has joined a court dispute over campaign finance laws.

The party is backing Dean Corren, a Burlington attorney and former Progressive/Democratic lieutenant governor candidate, against Attorney General Bill Sorrell's use of public financing laws.

Corren's campaign qualified for $200,000 in public financing on the condition that he not accept any additional contributions.

Attorney General Bill Sorrell argues that a Democratic Party email in support of Corren was a campaign contribution, and in March he called for the Corren campaign to return $52,000 in public funds and pay up to $20,000 in fines.

RELATED: $52K sanction against Corren over $255 spending

Corren responded by asking for an injunction in federal court, arguing against the constitutionality of the cap on contributions and other portions of the public financing law.

Sorrell has asked the court to dismiss the case and says in court filings that he conducted "regular duties of his office" by bringing the enforcement action against Corren.

Court records show that the Progressive Party, Burlington resident Richard Kemp, Montpelier resident Steven Hingtgen and Montpelier attorney Marjorie Power joined Corren's case May 13.

Hingtgen, Kemp and Power are former Progressive candidates for lieutenant governor.

"If Sorrell's actions stand, public financing is dead," Progressive Party Chairwoman Emma Mulvaney-Stanak said in a statement.

John Franco, the lawyer representing Corren, said the additional plaintiffs show that the case has far-reaching constitutional implications.

"What we're facing right now is a system that allows no relation at all between the political party and the candidate," Franco said.

Megan Shafritz, an assistant attorney general, says the office plans to ask U.S. District Court to dismiss the Progressive Party and other new plaintiffs for lack of legal standing.

Overall the Attorney General's Office has argued that the federal court should dismiss the case to avoid intervening in a state civil proceeding.

Contact April Burbank at (802) 660-1863 or aburbank@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/AprilBurbank

 

 

Originally published in the Burlington Free Press: http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com/story/news/politics/2015/06/05/progressives-corren-sorrell-lawsuit/28548515/