MONTPELIER — Bruce Lisman, the former Bear Stearns executive who has became the face and the voice of the “Campaign for Vermont,” said in a written statement the group is “factually and legally informing and engaging Vermonters” about important political decisions being made in the state.
The claim about “legally informing” is key here.
Lisman issued the statement in the wake of the Vermont Democratic Party’s complaint that Campaign for Vermont violated state campaign finance laws.
For a fuller explanation, you can read the Vermont Press Bureau’s earlier report.
But the basic complaint from Democrats is that Campaign for Vermont broke the law by crossing from issue advocacy to electioneering when it criticized Gov. Peter Shumlin in an ad.
“Clearly, some powers in Montpelier are threatened by a grassroots organization that puts people and progress ahead of partisanship and special interests,” Lisman said in a news release.
Lisman, however, seemed to leave open the possibility the group did break the rules.
“If we made a mistake with our public policy ads, we’ll fix it, but if our scrutiny
makes political parties uncomfortable — to the point where they question
the fundamental value and right of free speech — we’re clearly making
progress,” he stated.
We haven’t yet been able to get Lisman on the horn, but there has been much speculation about where the money for Campaign for Vermont is coming from and what Lisman’s intentions are.
Asked if the complaint was an attempt to learn where the group is getting its money, Vermont Democratic Party Chairman Jake Perkinson said it was.
“If they are in fact a political action committee, as we believe they are, yes it is,” he said. “We’d like to know where the money is coming from and who’s supporting the ideologies that are being disseminated by the organization.”
Perkinson said he didn’t know Lisman or his political ambitions but said it seems Campaign for Vermont is a forerunner for Lisman to be a candidate for office.
“…In my political experience I find it hard to believe it’s anything other than a stalking horse or perhaps the preliminary entree of a particular candidate to run for office in Vermont,” said Perkinson.