Super PAC Ad Heats Up Massachusetts Governor Race

The campaign of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley is criticizing rival Steve Grossman after a super PAC launched an ad attacking Coakley for her opposition to Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal to limit individuals to one gun purchase per month.

The TV ad was paid for by the pro-Grossman political action committee Mass Forward, and faults Coakley for not supporting the proposal. The ad calls Coakley the "wrong choice for governor."

Coakley, the state's attorney general; Grossman, the state treasurer; and former federal health care official Don Berwick are competing for the Democratic nomination for governor. Patrick is not seeking re-election.

The ad features several mothers who lost children to gun violence including Clarissa Turner, the mother of Willie Marquis Turner, a 25-year-old Boston man who was shot and killed in 2011. Turner said the two men who killed her son mistakenly thought he was in a gang and mistook him for someone else. Turner said she and the other mothers support the one-gun-per-month policy, which Grossman supports.

"She says it wouldn't have any effect. She's wrong," Turner says of Coakley in the ad. "One less gun can save a life."

Coakley's campaign quickly launched a web video criticizing Grossman for failing to agree to the same "people's pledge" signed by Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Scott Brown during the 2012 U.S. Senate race. The pledge is designed to discourage spending by super PACs on ads that favor certain candidates. Coakley and Grossman appeared close to signing the pledge last year, but didn't and now blame each other.

"By refusing to sign a people's pledge that would stop unlimited secret money from influencing this campaign, Steve Grossman has shown that he is willing to compromise his values in order to win an election," said Coakley campaign manager Tim Foley in a written statement.

Foley also sent out a fundraising email urging Coakley supporters to "chip in to help us raise $10,000 in the next 24 hours for our Rapid Response Fund."

Coakley has said the one-gun-a-month limit isn't necessary in Massachusetts and the state should instead focus on illegal guns and keeping firearms away from mentally unstable people.

House and Senate lawmakers recently passed gun bills, neither of which includes the one-gun-per-month proposal. Lawmakers are trying to craft a single compromise version.

Grossman praised the ad and again called on Coakley to support the one-gun-per-month proposal.

"The brave women in this ad aren't a political action committee or an outside special interest," said Grossman in a statement. "They are mothers who lost their children because of gun violence."

The Mass Forward PAC lists Newton residents Barry and Eleanor White as chair and co-chair of the committee. Grossman also lives in Newton.

Super PACs can raise and spend unlimited funds but must operate independently from candidates. State lawmakers are currently debating a bill designed to tighten reporting requirements for super PACs.

Under the legislation, corporations, labor unions and political committees would be required to file a campaign finance report within seven days of making an independent expenditure, which could include television, radio, Internet, or newspaper ads. House and Senate lawmakers are trying to hammer out a compromise bill.


Associated Press writer Bob Salsberg contributed to this report.


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