Brown-Warren Pact Ends Third-Party Ads in Mass. Senate Race

Thursday, 29 Mar 2012 03:00 PM

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While super PAC-driven attack ads are the rule in many political races around the country, the two contenders for Massachusett's U.S. Senate seat have sworn off them in an unusal deal.

Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren signed an uusual pledge in January promising to make a charitable donation equal to half the cost of any third-party advertising, The Washington Post reported.

If this truce holds, a PAC attempting to help one of the candidates would instead damage them financially. Brown or Warren would have to make a donation for any attack done on their behalf.

The pact, called the People’s Pledge, has been invoked just twice, both times against Brown, as a result of ads run by the American Petroleum Institute and a small Massachusetts political group.

“A financial penalty incurred by the very candidate you intended to support through an ad buy seems to be functioning as an effective deterrent in Massachusetts,” said Lisa Gilbert, deputy director of the Congress Watch program at Public Citizen. ”This has enabled at least one race to be freed from the game of outside and corporate spending we have seen playing out in the wake of Citizens United.”

In the 2010 Citizens United ruling, the Supreme Court said Congress shouldn't be allowed to limit the amount corporations, unions and similar entities gave to campaigns. That has unleashed a torrent of campaign spending through Super PACs expected to top $6 billion in the 2012 election cycle.

Brown donated $1,000 to an autism charity as a result of the political group ad run on Google. The cost of the American Petroleum Institute ad has not yet been determined, the Post reported.

Millions were pouring into the race from outside groups before Brown and Warren signed their pact.

Similar attempts in other states, such as Montana, have failed.

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