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Vt. Delegation Adds to Election Funds

Cash is rolling in at a reliable pace for Vermont’s congressional delegation.

By now, serious electoral foes are a foreign concept to Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch, but the invulnerability doesn’t seem to have dampened the giving spirit of their supporters. All three sit on growing stockpiles of money, well in excess of $1 million each.

The latest campaign finance reports, filed every three months with the Federal Elections Commission, cover the period from April to July 15.

Welch is up for re-election in 2014; Leahy and Sanders have a little more than three and five years to go in their terms, respectively.

Welch took in $121,619 during the past three months — 83 percent came from PACs — bringing his campaign total to $1,233,896. Vermont’s senators had almost the reverse people-to-PAC ratio. Leahy raised substantially more than Sanders, but both got 86 percent of their money from individual donors. Sanders raised about $7,000, $6,000 of which came from 216 individual donors. The Independent senator, who accepts PAC money only selectively, didn’t receive a single PAC donation this round, according to Ben Eisenberg, his campaign finance director.

Leahy collected $136,219, bringing his total war chest to $1,612,925. In addition to a massive number of individuals, many of whom gave low-dollar sums, 20 PACs pitched in $19,300. They ranged from standard fare, like defense contractors and dairy groups, to the less mainstream — International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees gave $1,000, perhaps due to Leahy’s appearances in the Batman movie franchise.

Sanders, who coasted into a sixth term (combined House and Senate) in 2012, spent nearly seven times what he brought in during the past three months, but the roughly $50,000 he shelled out barely makes a dent in his $4 million war chest. Staff salaries and catering costs make up a sizeable chunk of his expenses. The latter reveals a predilection for bagels, including one $1,162 purchase.

Leahy spent $71,533, including $18,000 to Carolyn Dwyer, a Montpelier fundraising and management consultant who is also on the University of Vermont Board of Trustees, and roughly $13,700 to a fundraising consultant group.

Welch shelled out $47,569, and at least $150 has already proved well-spent. On June 27, the Welch campaign paid American Gas Association $150 for an “event fee;” three days later, American Gas Association reciprocated with a $2,000 donation. Other major expenses include $10,500 to the political consulting group, Kieloch Consulting.

Welch, who sits on the Energy and Commerce Committee, picked up a number of contributions from PACs with clear stakes in that arena. Natural gas and electric utilities PACs were especially well-represented. He also continues to remain a darling of the dairy industry. And he scooped up a number of contributions from PACS in the health care sector — ranging from the Ob-Gyns for Women’s Health PAC to the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists — and from the communication sector.

Leahy and Welch each nabbed the support of one prominent tech company and up-and-coming political player — Facebook gave $1,000 to Leahy and Google gave $1,000 to Welch.

In all, 144 individuals, over 100 of them Vermont residents, gave to Welch’s campaign. With the exception of a few, the rest are donors from New England or D.C. The majority of Sanders’ donors are Vermont-based as well, while Leahy draws from a much broader geographic pool.