Outsiders Abide by Rules in Brown-Warren Race; Candidates' Agreement Seeks to Limit Influence
Cunningham, Paige Winfield, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Byline: Paige Winfield Cunningham, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Interest groups are technically obeying an unusual effort to keep third-party advertising out of the Massachusetts U.S. Senate race - including one union that recently switched its Internet ads supporting Democrat Elizabeth Warren to ads supporting President Obama - but that hasn't stopped them from finding other ways to try to sway the marquee matchup.
Super PACs and other groups have shelled out more than $2.3 million over the last two months for direct mail, phone banks and canvassing, efforts still allowed under a pact hammered out by Republican Sen. Scott P. Brown and Mrs. Warren that promised to donate to charity if any outside groups advertised on their behalf.
That amount is not much compared to other races around the country, where outside groups are spending millions of dollars on television, radio and Internet ads. But it allows groups to honor the candidates' agreement while still making their mark on one of the highest-profile - and most expensive - Senate races in the country.
Still, that's not to say some groups haven't come close to breaking the rules.
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union bought nearly $15,000 in online ads last month for Mrs. Warren, according to Federal Election Commission filings. But once officials learned the ads weren't allowed under the ban, they revamped them to support Mr. Obama instead, said union spokesman Tim Schlittner.
We're strong supporters of Elizabeth Warren, and if this is the pact she agreed to, we don't want to violate that, Mr. Schlittner told The Washington Times. We're here to help, not to harm.
The ban covers positive and negative ads and even prevents the party committees (both the Republican and Democratic National Committees and the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the Democratic National Senatorial Committee) from spending independently in the race.
And after a handful of infringements last spring forced Mr. Brown to donate about $35,000 to charity, both campaigns agreed to make the ban stricter, adding issue-specific advertising to the list.
But the major PACs and super PACs on both sides still have found plenty of ways to try to influence the race.
Americans for Tax Reform and a super PAC called America 360 have spent a combined $718,397 on mailers opposing Mrs. …