U.S. Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass, and Elizabeth Warren, his main Democratic challenger, will have difficulty enforcing a pledge to limit third party spending in what is likely to be a closely watched and bruising Senate race. Brown and Warren have agreed to donate to charity 50 percent of the cost of any television or radio advertising purchased by outside groups. The pact is an attempt to curb the influence of outside organizations that have begun pouring millions of dollars into political campaigns after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United Decision eliminated some restrictions on campaign finance.
But the Massachusetts senate seat candidates face a challenge in upholding their commitment in an electoral landscape that has been fundamentally reshaped by an avalanche of money from entities known as super PACs. Candidates are barred by law from coordinating with super PACs, weakening Brown or Warren’s ability to check their spending.
“These are by definition of independent groups,” said Adam Skaggs, a senior counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy Program. “Perhaps this will reduce to some extent the amount of advertising, but this is going to be a heated race and obviously this pledge is not binding on any of the outside groups in a position to run these ads. I would not be surprised as the race heats up if outside groups decide to jump in.”