by Paul Heintz
Not surprisingly, the bulk of that came from the conservative super PAC Vermonters First, which has been almost entirely bankrolled by Burlington super-donor Lenore Broughton.
Since Oct. 6, the organization has spent $322,000 on mass media. The next five biggest-spending outside groups all support Democratic candidates, but their combined spending in the past three weeks pales in comparison: just $138,000.
In that period, $192,000 of Vermonters First's cash has gone to ads and mailers backing the Republican candidate for state treasurer, Wendy Wilton. Thanks to Vermont's quirky campaign finance disclosure laws, it's impossible to determine precisely how much money Vermonters First has spent on Wilton's candidacy in total — but it's likely far greater than that.
Since the super PAC was founded two months ago, it has spent at least $814,000 attempting to influence the election.
For the final month of the campaign season, outside groups are required to immediately report how much money they spend on mass media, and the candidates on whose behalf they are spending it. Prior to the campaign's last month, they do not. Conversely, while we learn more in the closing days of the campaign season about how outside groups are spending their money, we learn less about how they're raising it. After Oct. 15, such groups don't have to report contributions until after the election.
Here's a look at how much super PACs, party committees and other interest groups have invested in mass media since Oct. 6. Keep in mind that election cycle-to-date figures likely under-represent how much money these groups have spent, because they are not required to immediately report expenses like polling and payroll, nor direct contributions to candidates.
An important caveat to the list above: Because we're focusing on outside groups that have spent money on mass media in the past three weeks, we're missing a lot of interest groups that have provided direct contributions to candidates instead of making independent expenditures. For a more comprehensive list, scroll down to the bottom of the Secretary of State's Oct. 15 campaign finance filing page. And click here to monitor mass media filings yourself in the closing days of the election.
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