Brown, Warren And Outside Groups

[Opening image: Massachusetts State House]

Voiceover: Massachusetts is a liberal, Democrat state. It deserves a liberal, Democrat Senator.

[fade to black]

Voiceover: But two years ago, voters made a mistake....

[Image appears on left half of screen: Scott Brown, in barn coat; preferably shaking hands outside Fenway Park in the cold]

Voiceover: ...They elected a so-called "independent Republican," Scott Brown, instead of...

[Image of Brown remains on left half of screen; image appears on right half of screen: Martha Coakley; preferably with a slightly smug, superior smile]

Voiceover: ...liberal Democrat Martha Coakley. We could have counted on Coakley to vote consistently with the liberal Democrats in Washington. Instead, we have Scott Brown, who has one of the least partisan-line voting records in Congress.

[Image of Brown fades to black; image of Coakley remains on right half of screen]

Voiceover: But we can fix that mistake...

[Image appears on left half of screen: Elizabeth Warren; preferably with a slightly smug, superior smile; image of Coakley remains on right half of screen]

Voiceover: electing Elizabeth Warren. Like Martha Coakley, Elizabeth Warren has the backing of powerful Washington Democrats....

[Quotes appear over the images and fade out, of compliments to Warren from Harry Reid, Guy Cecil of DSCC, etc.]

Voiceover: ...and national liberal groups.

[Quotes appear over the images and fade out, of compliments to Warren from Progressive Change Campaign Committee, Democracy For America, etc.]

Voiceover: Like Martha Coakley, we can count on Elizabeth Warren to vote for liberal, Democrat plans -- more government regulations, cap and trade, higher taxes, and more spending.

[Image of Coakley expands to cover image of Warren, until Coakley image fills the entire screen]

Voiceover: So, if you think Massachusetts made a mistake, and should have elected liberal Democrat Martha Coakley, you know what to do. Vote Elizabeth Warren for US Senate.

Voiceover 2: This message paid for by Crossroads GPS, which is solely responsible for its contents.

As you probably know, the Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren campaigns are in negotiations to prevent outside groups from running ads in their (presumed) Senate race. Brown's proposal would have a candidate's campaign give, to charity, a sum equal to half of any amount spent on their behalf by such groups. So, for example, if the current GOP Presidential candidates had such a pact in place, then Mitt Romney would have to make a $400,000 charitable contribution out of his campaign fund, as penalty for the $800,000 ad buy that the Restore Our Future Super PAC recently reported to the Federal Election Commission as an "independent expenditure" that "opposes candidate: Newt Gingrich."

Under this proposal, I don't see why Karl Rove's Crossroads group wouldn't spend $1 million running something like the ad I envisioned above, and reporting it to the FEC as "supports candidate: Elizabeth Warren" -- and then calling on her to give away $500,000. What could Warren do? Appeal to the FEC, submitting afffadavits attesting that Martha Coakley is a horrible person, and liberal is an insult?

It also occurs to me that, for the next eight months at least, a left-leaning group could run millions of dollars of vicious ads attacking Scott Brown, and claim to be doing so on behalf of Democratic candidates Marisa DeFranco or Jim King -- who, as best I can tell, have not been invited to be part of this agreement.

Personally, I think this whole exercise the two campaigns are going through is a silly one. There are always lots of outside groups that try to influence elections, and while I disagree with the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, and think we could use some changes in the rules for how outside groups operate, I think it's pointless for the campaigns to try to rope off certain things as good and others as bad. What kind of outside group is bad? What kind of spending or activity? What if the Massachusetts Teachers Association wants to spend $250,000 on mailings to inform voters across the state who they have endorsed, and why? What if the NRSC and DSCC want to pay for staffers to do organizing work in the state? What if the Beacon Hill Institute wants its executive director, as part of his salaried-position duties, to appear as a guest on radio and TV shows to denounce Warren's policy positions? What if a Mass Alliance staffer wants to retweet one of my devastatingly hilarious Scotto insults? 

I don't know; maybe I'll be impressed with the agreement they ultimately come up with, if any. But something tells me it won't stop Karl Rove -- or EMILY's List, or others -- from finding ways to try to influence this election. 

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