- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 25, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The state attorney general’s office has sued a publicly financed lieutenant governor candidate accused of campaign finance violations stemming from a mass email worth about $250.

Attorney General William Sorrell said Wednesday that Dean Corren’s campaign solicited and facilitated a Vermont Democratic Party mass email sent to at least 16,000 people last October supporting his candidacy.

“It’s clear that the Corren campaign solicited or requested this assistance and then, with suggesting wording that in very large part was adopted by the Democrats in the email to at least 16,000 Vermonters, that there was a facilitation of that effort by the Democrats,” Sorrell said in a press conference.

The email amounts to a campaign contribution worth at least an estimated $255 that Corren and the party failed to report, Sorrell said. Sorrell’s office said it’s seeking the return of $52,000 in public funds that Corren’s campaign was estimated to have when the email was sent and up to $20,000 in fines.

Sorrell’s office said it filed two counts against the Corren campaign for the solicitation of the blast email and the failure to report it. The penalty for each is up to $10,000, Sorrell said.

“The public financing system that we have in Vermont presents huge benefits to candidates who want to take advantage of that but along with those benefits are the responsibilities or obligations to play by the rules that the Legislature sets,” Sorrell said.

Corren, who lost the election, filed a lawsuit against Sorrell on Friday in federal court, challenging some provisions of the campaign finance law. He has asked the court to declare that he did not violate the campaign finance act because the email, which was reviewed by the party counsel before it was sent out, fits within several exemptions in the statute, his lawyer John Franco said.

“He was also compelled by the nature of the claims and threats made against him to challenge the constitutionality of certain provisions of the Act,” Franco said in a written statement.

Sorrell’s office says it has reached an agreement to settle a violation claim against the Democratic Party. The party has agreed to pay the maximum penalty of $10,000 and agrees to cooperate with the attorney general’s office in any further investigation, Sorrell’s office said.

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