Corren, AG settle 2014 campaign finance dispute

 Dean Corren
Dean Corren (WCAX)
Published: Nov. 21, 2017 at 10:39 AM EST
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A former candidate for Vermont lieutenant governor is off the hook for a five-figure fine. Dean Corren was the 2014 Progressive and Democratic nominee. Tuesday, a settlement in his campaign finance case dismisses what he considers a trumped up charge.

"We never thought it was a proper case. They never did a proper investigation. They didn't interview a single-- they didn't interview me, they didn't interview a single one of our campaign workers. The facts, if they had been interested in knowing them, they could have known three years ago," Corren said.

In 2014, Corren ran for lieutenant governor. He asked the Vermont Democratic Party to send a fundraising email on his behalf and says he offered to pay for it but the party didn't take the money.

"We insisted on paying for anything that wasn't exempt. We laid down the rules from the very beginning to the Democratic Party, just as we did with anybody else," Corren said.

The email was ruled a campaign contribution by a court, one not allowed because Corren used public financing for his campaign. So then-Democratic Attorney General William Sorrell wanted Corren to pay a hefty price for the email, about $72,000 in damages.

Current Democratic Attorney General T.J. Donovan says Sorrell's approach was too heavy-handed.

"It just didn't seem fair," Donovan said. "I was concerned about the notions of fairness, the notions of governmental overreach on an email. The email had some value. It was a contribution but it seemed the outcome would have been disproportionate to the alleged violation."

Now, Corren and Donovan have agreed to make the case go away. Corren will pay $255 for that email.

"He can send that to a Vermont charity and I think we can take a look back on this case and learn from a couple things that happened and try to improve the system going forward," Donovan said.

Corren says Donovan's delay in dispatching the case added to his legal costs.

"He actually took 11 months to come to the conclusion that they had no case and drop it," Corren said. "And that 11 months cost us over $26,000."

Corren says he has raised $17,000 for his $50,000 legal bill and will continue seeking donations.