- Associated Press - Monday, May 19, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Attorney General William Sorrell on Monday issued a guidance saying that political candidates should face the same caps on contributions by donors, even if some face a primary and others do not.

Current Vermont law says individual donors may give candidates up to $2,000 per election, while political action committees may give $6,000. Sorrell said on Monday.

That has been interpreted to mean someone can donate $2,000 for a primary and $2,000 for the general election to the same candidate.

“This approach leads to lower contribution limits for independent candidates who do not have a primary, as opposed to major party candidates who run in both a primary and general election,” Sorrell said.

He said the approach could be vulnerable to a constitutional challenge, especially following a decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. That Denver-based court ruled that applying different contribution limits for write-in and major party candidates for the same office violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

Gov. Peter Shumlin signed a new campaign finance law for January that Sorrell said would correct the problem by setting limits “per election cycle,” rather than “per election.” That means candidates and donors will face the same limits regardless of whether the candidate faces a primary.

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