BOSTON — Reusing a tactic employed in the last U.S. Senate election, the two Democratic congressmen running in the special election to replace John Kerry in the Senate have signed a “people’s pledge” to discourage outside spending in the race.
Congressmen Ed Markey and Stephen Lynch released a joint statement (PDF) saying that if an outside group runs an “independent expenditure” ad on TV, radio, cable, satellite, online or direct mail that boosts or criticizes either one, the candidate who benefited from the ad will donate half the ad’s cost to a charity of the other’s choosing. The candidates have three days to make the donation before the cost goes up.
Both candidates made statements decrying the use of outside money to influence politics.
“Outside interest groups have no place in Massachusetts elections,” Lynch said. “This race should be decided in debates and on the stump, not by third party advertisements or special interest mailers. I urge the Republican, Libertarian, un-enrolled, and any other candidates to join us in this pledge.”
A former ironworker and member of Ironworkers Local 7, Lynch would have to pay if his former union ran an ad on his behalf.
“Outside money has no place in the Massachusetts Senate race,” Markey said. “This election should be focused on issues, not outside-group attack ads. I urge all candidates in this race to join us in committing to the people’s pledge and say no to the outside special interests who want to influence this election.”
Markey has been endorsed by the National Democratic Senatorial Committee, which would similarly cost Markey if it tried to influence the race.
The agreement expands on an agreement made by Sen. Elizabeth Warren and then-Sen. Scott Brown, which did not include online ads or direct mail in the “people’s pledge.”
Both agreements come after the Supreme Court opened up political advertising to corporations and unions through the Citizens United decision.