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Dem. Sen. hopeful Markey renews call for ad pledge

March 4, 2013

BOSTON (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Edward Markey again called on Republican candidates Monday to sign a pledge discouraging outside groups from running ads in Massachusetts’ special Senate election, but said the ban shouldn’t extend to the type of political action committee contributions that he’s received.

Markey and fellow Democratic congressman and Senate hopeful Stephen Lynch have signed the “people’s pledge,” similar to the pledge signed by former Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren during last year’s Senate contest.

The deal has been rejected by two Republican candidates, Norfolk state Rep. Daniel Winslow and Cohasset businessman Gabriel Gomez.

Markey said the ban is targeted at the potential millions that could be spent on ads by individuals like longtime Republican supporters Charles and David Koch, and groups like American Crossroads, a super PAC headed by veteran GOP strategist Karl Rove.

Markey equated the money to “political pollution.”

“Scott Brown to his credit called for an end to it in Massachusetts. He said it shouldn’t happen here and it did not happen here,” Markey said. “These Republican candidates are not willing to take that pledge.”

But Markey has received hundreds of thousands in PAC donations during the past two-year-election cycle, prompting one GOP Senate hopeful to call his stance “inauthentic”.

“For Congressmen Markey and Lynch to posture about outside money in politics when their coffers are already filled with money from outside Massachusetts just shows you how inauthentic this pledge really is,” Daniel Winslow said in a statement released when Markey first proposed the pledge.

Winslow said he would “welcome any outside group to contribute positive” issue ads, mailings and social media.

Gomez also faulted Markey taking “millions of dollars in special interest money” during his decades in Congress.

“I’m taking one pledge and one pledge only: to protect and defend the Constitution,” Gomez said in a written statement Monday. “Let’s be honest — politicians always make pledges because nobody trusts them.”

A third Republicans in the race — former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan — hasn’t said whether he will sign the pledge.

The pledge seeks to ban radio, television and internet ads and political mailings from outside groups. If an outside group runs an ad, the pledge requires the candidate who benefits to donate half the cost of the ad to a charity chosen by the other candidate.

Markey said PAC donations are different because they are required to be publicly reported on candidates’ filings with federal election officials.

“There’s full disclosure of that. It’s transparent,” Markey said. “What we’re really concerned about is this outside source (of money) that really doesn’t have the disclosure.”

The Massachusetts Democratic Party also released a video Monday that includes audio of Brown last year praising the pledge he and Warren signed.

But Republicans say the pledge ignores the financial edge the Democrats have in the race. As of the end of 2012, Markey had more than $3 million in his campaign account while Lynch had more than $760,000. And both have relied heavily on money from PACs to help fill their campaign coffers.

During the 2011-2012 election cycle, PACs contributed more than $434,228 to Markey, according to an Associated Press review of campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission. A ranking Democratic member of the subcommittee that oversees the cable television, wireless and broadcast industries, he received strong PAC support from the telecommunications industry, including those representing Time Warner Cable Inc., Comcast Corp., Sprint Nextel Corp., and Viacom International Inc.

While Lynch collected slightly more from PACs — $464,175 — the contributions accounted for a far greater portion of his fundraising total — about 65 percent. Lynch, who was an ironworker for 18 years before entering politics, enjoyed strong backing from unions. A dozen labor-related PACS contributed at least $10,000 each to his campaign account during the cycle.

The Democratic and Republican primaries are scheduled for April 30. The special Senate election is June 25.