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September 19, 2012

Brock Dines with Super PAC Head; Brooks Denies, Then Confirms Dinner

BrockRepublican gubernatorial candidate Randy Brock had dinner Tuesday night with the man behind a new, conservative super PAC, Brock disclosed Wednesday.

But Brock says he and Tayt Brooks, the treasurer and consultant for Vermonters First, did not discuss the super PAC Brooks runs or Brock's campaign, which would be illegal. While super PACs are free to raise and spend unlimited funds to support or oppose political candidates, they are barred from coordinating or sharing strategy with campaigns.

Brock disclosed the dinner to a handful of reporters following a health care press conference in Berlin (pictured), during which the topic of Brock's relationship with the super PAC and its leaders came up.

Reached by phone immediately after Brock's disclosure, Brooks at first claimed he hadn't seen the gubernatorial candidate in months.

Asked when he last saw Brock, Brooks said, "I really honestly don't know."

Asked again, he said, "I have to think about it."

Asked a third time, he said, "The last time I saw Randy Brock was probably a few months ago."

Informed of Brock's disclosure, Brooks quickly changed his story.

"I did meet with Randy last night," he said. "I happened to catch up with Randy last night."

"It was a private conversation," Brooks said when asked what they discussed. "It was not related as far as anything with Vermonters First."

Brooks declined to discuss the nature of their conversation, but said, "We did not talk about Randy's campaign."

When asked if it was appropriate to be meeting with Brock, whose campaign the super PAC may ultimately support with advertising, Brooks said, "Again, there was nothing talked about in regards to campaign activities and Vermonters First."

At the Berlin press conference, Brock also declined to discuss what the two spoke about over dinner.

Asked if the campaign came up, Brock said, "I may have mentioned where I was for an appearance or something. But we didn't talk about — the point is we didn't talk about any campaign strategy. He's not involved in my campaign. He's not part of my campaign."

According to Brock, the two are friends who know each other from Brooks' former work as executive director of the Vermont Republican Party and in former governor Jim Douglas' administration. He said the two see each other two to four times a month.

Asked if it would be smarter to steer clear of Brooks while the political operative is running an independent super PAC and he is running a campaign for governor, Brock said, "I guess the thought of tape recording every conversation I have with him in order to ensure that there's an arms-length relationship — but I think we both, we simply haven't coordinated on this at all. Zero. But he's a friend of mine."

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