Back in January, in an effort to mitigate the influence of outside spending in their Massachusetts senate race, Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and his opponent, Elizabeth Warren, made a deal. The agreement assesses a penalty on the candidate who benefits from outside advertising, equal to 50 percent of the advertising expenditure. The penalty is paid to the charity of the opposing candidate’s choice. In keeping with the pledge, Sen. Brown yesterday hand-delivered a $35,545 check to the Autism Consortium in Boston.
At the time of the agreement, Public Campaign Action Fund praised the pledge, saying: “This agreement by the Senate candidates in Massachusetts is innovative and should serve as a model for other races around the country. If it can be enforced effectively, we hope it becomes widely adopted in this election cycle,” said David Donnelly, the group’s national campaigns director. “As an extra incentive against organizations breaking this agreement, perhaps the Senate candidates can also agree to both donate to a cause that the big special interests particularly don’t like: charitable organizations working to clean up big special interest money in politics.”
The agreement was and is a good idea, and it's certainly good that Sen. Brown has followed through. But make no mistake, in this race, and every other hotly contested contest, super PAC spending will be huge and undoubtably have an impact on many races. These two candidates deserve praise for taking a solid step, but much will need to be done to fight back against the influence of huge super PAC spending in this election year.