Outside Groups Pour Cash into Mass. Special Senate Race

Wednesday, 20 Mar 2013 11:08 PM

By Matthew Auerbach

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Outside groups are pouring tons of cash into the Massachusetts special Senate election campaign despite the best efforts of both Democratic primary candidates to keep such money out, The Hill reports.

The groups have found ways to get around “The Peoples' Pledge,” which Reps. Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch both signed when they entered the race to fill the upper chamber seat left open by former Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who is now secretary of state.

In a special election primary, with its shortened duration and expected low turnout, there's a danger that big money can tip the balance for either candidate — even if that money doesn’t fund broadcast advertising spots.

Outside groups supporting Markey's run have spent more than $350,000 this month, while groups supporting Lynch have spent more than $30,000, according to Federal Election Commission filings. None of the money technically breaks the pledge, according to the publication.

For example:
  • Two environmental groups endorsing Markey have dug down deep to provide monetary support.
  • The League of Conservation Voters spent more than $235,000 on “field campaign consulting,” the single largest expenditure of an outside group on the race.
  • Overall, the LCV has spent more than $320,000 in support for Markey, including $20,000 for polling and nearly $45,000 on “volunteer mobilization.”
  • An organization committed to ending global warming — 350.org Action — has spent more than $15,000 on “media relations services” and “salaries” for Markey’s campaign.
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America, which also endorsed Markey, spent more than $22,000 on mailings to its members.
  • The PAC affiliated with the International Association of Firefighters spent more than $30,000 last week on behalf of Lynch on a coach bus and rally signs.
The People's Pledge was put in place as an attempt to limit third-party spending on radio, cable, satellite, online and direct mail advertising.

If any third-party group does launch an on-air or mail attack, the candidate supported by the attack must pay half of the amount to a charity of the opposing candidate's choice.

So far, no one has broken the pledge.

It's a repeat of what happened in the 2012 Senate race, when both Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., signed the pledge.

While no outside groups provided money that directly funded any on-air spots, many of the same groups that are spending in the special election — LCV and NARAL Pro-Choice America are two — supported Warren with canvassing and get-out-the-vote efforts.

With Markey and Lynch having a little more than five weeks to go until primary day, those get-out-the-vote and canvassing efforts may make all the more difference in helping to educate and turn out voters for the special primary.


















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