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Third-party Ad Ban Sought In Mass.Senate Race

By Paul Tuthill


Springfield,MA – Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren say they want to block third-party groups from airing political attack ads in the Massachusetts Senate race. Staff members from the two campaigns are planning to meet to see if an agreement can be forged. WAMC"s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports.

It is unclear what if any power either Brown or Warren have over the political action committees and other organizations that are independent of their respective campaigns. Federal election law explicitly bans candidates from coordinating with third party groups on political advertising.
Anthony Cignolli, a Springfield based political consultant says the candidates can make public pleas, but it is unlikely the super-PACs and the rest will listen.
Quite simply, Cignolli says the stakes are too high for anyone with an agenda at stake to sit out the Massachusetts Senate race.
There are also First Amendment concerns. The US Supreme Court's 2010 " Citizens United" decision that held the government can not put limits on political spending by corporations and unions has given rise to super-PACs like Crossroads GPS. It has ties to Republican political strategist Karl Rove. It has aired two ads critical of Warren
The League of Conservation Voters has aired an aid challenging Brown's voting record on issues it says are important to its members.
Brown was the first to call for an end to the third party ads, calling them false and misleading. Warren initially defended the free speech rights of the independent groups. But, then, in response to a letter from Brown asking her to join him in denouncing the ads, Warren said the campaigns should come up with an enforceable agreement to banish the ads.
Tim Vercellotti, associate professor of political science and director of the polling institute at Western New England University. He says its possible the respective advisors for the Brown and Warren campaigns could strike a creative agreement on campaign spending that would address the influence of the third party ads.
In 1996, Democratic U.S. Senator John Kerry and his Republican opponent, former Governor William Weld, negogiated an agreement to limit campaign spending to 5 million dollars each. That deal fell apart in the waning weeks of that intense campaign.
Brown, who is officially announcing his re-election bid later this week enjoys a current money advantage over Warren. He has 12 point 8 million dollars in cash on hand, versus 6 million reported by Warren's campaign. But Warren raised 5 point 7 million dollars in the last quarter of 2011, versus 3 point two million collected by Brown during that same period.