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Vermont judge refuses to stop Republican Governors Assocation's ads

The Times Argus reports: A Chittenden County [Vermont] judge on Tuesday refused to halt the Republican Governors Association's $300,000 advertising campaign on behalf of Gov. James Douglas despite the attorney general's opinion that the ad blitz violates Vermont law.

But the issue is far from settled, as Judge Richard Norton today will hold an emergency hearing in Chittenden County Superior Court in which Douglas' challenger, Burlington Mayor Peter Clavelle, will be able to argue that the association's ads are causing "irreparable harm" to the candidate and to the Democratic Party. ...

Norton declined to order a temporary restraining order for a number of reasons. He said that it was unclear whether the state's campaign finance laws actually protected individual candidates. Since the intent of the laws is to benefit "Vermont citizens and public confidence, not candidates," the judge reasoned that a restraining order could be obtained only by a prosecutor such as the attorney general and not Clavelle or the Democratic Party.

Nonetheless, Norton said an emergency hearing was needed to determine the effects of the RGA's ad campaign and whether or not it is in violation of state campaign finance laws. -- Ads may violate state law, but will continue to run (Times Argus)