Conservative Super PAC Back On-Air — And in Your Mailbox
For the past two weeks, the conservative super PAC Vermonters First has been blanketing the airwaves with ads supporting two Republican candidates and opposing single-payer health care.
After exhausting its first $100,000 worth of television spots at the end of this week, the super PAC is coming back for another round. And, this time, it's extending its reach from your television to your mailbox: The group has sent out new direct mail pieces, which hit the streets Thursday.
According to public records obtained at WCAX-TV, Vermonters First is spending another $47,167 for two more weeks on that station, starting Monday, Sept. 24. That's slightly more than the $45,390 it spent on the current, expiring round of ads.
The group is also going up on two stations on which it has not thus far had a presence: Fox 44 and ABC 22. According to documents obtained from the company that owns both channels, Vermonters First has thus far bought $29,125 worth of ads on the stations — though that figure pertains to ads scheduled for the remainder of the election season, not just the next two weeks.
Seven Days could not immediately obtain ad figures from WPTZ-TV or cable television, but Vermonters First treasurer Tayt Brooks confirmed the new buy. While he would not confirm the total cost of his next two-week campaign, he did say, "It's roughly in the same ballpark of what we've been doing thus far."
The new buy signals that Vermonters First has received a new influx of money. According to a campaign finance report filed Monday, the group had exhausted an initial $100,000 investment it received from Burlington's Lenore Broughton on its first two-week ad buy. In order to stay on-air, Broughton — or somebody else — must have plopped down another five- or six-figure contribution.
"That would be correct that Vermonters First has received some additional funding," Brooks confirmed, though he would not say whether Broughton or other donors had stepped up to the plate.
Neither would Brooks confirm whether the group planned to continue running the same three ads, two of which promote the candidacies of Wendy Wilton and Vince Illuzzi, the Republican candidates for state treasurer and auditor, respectively.
"I'm not going to get into the specifics. I'll let people keep tuning in," Brooks said. "But it's fair to say it's going to be the type of messaging and issues and concerns that we've focused on, as far as how is health care going to be paid for."
Also on Thursday, Seven Days received copies of a new direct mail piece (pictured above and below) that appears to come from Vermonters First. The double-sided letter bearing Brooks' signature landed in the mailboxes of several Democratic voters today, according to the source who provided it to Seven Days.
It includes much of the rhetoric associated with the super PAC, focusing mostly on the Democratic Party's dominance in Montpelier and a plan it says "involves the government take-over of your healthcare." While the front of the letter refers only to Democrats generally, the back highlights Wilton's candidacy. Enclosed is an absentee ballot request form, which the letter asks voters to fill out and return to their town clerk.
While Brooks declined to specifically confirm the authenticity of the letter without having seen it, he said, "There is a piece certainly out there that has my signature talking to voters about the issues in Montpelier around health care."
Brooks also declined to say if his super PAC has mailed multiple pieces, nor would he say how much the group spent on mail.
In other television ad-war news:
- Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott is going on-air Monday with his own spots. Scott has booked a comparatively light schedule of ads on WCAX to run four days a week for the remaining five full weeks of the campaign, at a cost of $15,725. He's also booked $7800 worth of ads on FOX 44 and ABC 22 — and another $3719 on WPTZ.
- In addition to the Vermonters First ads supporting her candidacy, Wilton is going up with her own spots. She's booked $11,254 worth of time on WCAX between Oct. 22 and the election.
- Lastly, as the Vermont Press Bureau's Peter Hirschfeld and the Burlington Free Press' Nancy Remsen are reporting, the anti-single-payer group Vermonters for Health Care Freedom is also planning to air a 30-second ad on WCAX and WPTZ through Election Day. That buy comes out to $12,000.
Both sides of the Vermonters Fist letter are copied below: