Christine Hallquist (center) with fellow Democratic candidates Brenda Siegel (left) and James Ehlers.
Democrat Christine Hallquist pledged Monday to return all corporate contributions that were made to her campaign for governor. The move comes more than two weeks after rival Democratic candidate James Ehlers called on Hallquist and Republican Gov. Phil Scott to return corporate donations.
In a press release, Hallquist indicated she was changing her campaign’s policy to draw a contrast with Scott.
“After watching Phil Scott take large sums from Monsanto and other out of state corporations, it has become clear that my leading on the issue of campaign finance is more important than ever,” Hallquist said. “I realize that I should have had my personal connections donate through their personal accounts.”
As of July 15, corporate contributions made up $20,610 of Hallquist’s $132,340 fundraising total. The contributions were made up of $16,160 in cash and $4,450 of in-kind gifts, such as $450 for event space at the Great Northern restaurant in Burlington.
Half of Hallquist’s corporatecash came from Vermont Telephone Company and its subsidiary, VTel Wireless, which each contributed the maximum legal donation of $4,080.
Hallquist’s mention of Monsanto echoed a July 18 statement from Ehlers calling on Hallquist and Scott to stop taking corporate contributions.
“Scott regularly takes campaign contributions from Monsanto,” Ehlers said in the release.
As of July 15, Scott’s campaign had raised $44,150 from corporations in the current election cycle, including $2,500 from Monsanto. Campaign manager Brittney Wilson said Monday that Scott is not considering returning the contributions.
Ehlers campaign spokesperson Sarah Anders said Scott’s record — particularly this year's vetoes of bills to raise the minimum wage to $15 and to hold corporations liable for harm caused by toxic chemicals — shows that he’s beholden to his corporate donors.
“His priorities couldn’t be clearer,” Anders said. “It’s all about corporate interests and putting those ahead of the people of Vermont.”
The other Democrats in the race, Brenda Siegel of Newfane and Ethan Sonneborn of Bristol, reported no contributions from corporations as of July 15. (None of Sonneborn’s reported donations amounted to more than $100, so he was not required to disclose any of his donors.)
In his July 15 campaign finance filing, grocer Keith Stern, who is challenging Scott in the Republican primary, reported corporate donations from three different produce companies totaling $1,310.