Anti-super PAC super PAC buys up airtime to make case for no super PACs

Folks watching election-night returns come in on WCAX tonight might catch a 60-second spot from one of Vermont’s two active super PACs.

The polls will have closed when the ad, underwritten by the left-leaning Priorities PAC, hits the air. But the spot aims not to help elect or defeat a candidate, but to spotlight the arrival this cycle of super PACs like itself.

Todd Bailey, a Statehouse lobbyist for KSE Partners and a consultant to Priorities PAC, is the star of the ad. In it ( he delivers a numbers-heavy monologue decrying the millions spent by outside groups in 2012. Bailey’s tagline – ‘please put us out of a job’ – underscores what Bailey says is the main purpose of the super PAC, which is to help put an end to super PACs.

Prirtities PAC spent about $3,000 to make the ad, plus another $1,500 for the single 60-second ad buy.

Bailey says the federal court rulings that gave rise to super PACs nationally will be all but impossible to dismantle locally. But he says Priorities PAC, and its sister organization, the issue-advocacy group called Vermont Priorities, will push for more robust disclosure requirements in the Statehouse next year.

Priorities PAC isn’t without its critics. Seven Days columnist Paul Heintz has subjected the group to a couple of take-downs in which he castigates the group for ushering in the super PAC era in Vermont (they were the first to register with the secretary of state) while simultaneously championing their demise.

Bailey says he deplores the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. But he says liberals opposed to it can’t sit on the sidelines while moneyed special interests – like the one underwriting the conservative super PAC, Vermonters First – use the new campaign-finance regime to commandeer the electoral process.

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