Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) fired off a letter last week calling on Elizabeth Warren to condemn the millions in third-party ads already running in the Massachusetts Senate race, which Brown will officially kick off this week.
Over the weekend, Warren called his bluff, publicly posting her own letter essentially telling Brown that if he really wants to deny groups like American Crossroads that are beating up Warren these days the opportunity to continue, she’d be more than happy to get on board.
Brown, who’s facing a barrage of negative third party attacks himself, accused Warren last week of being a hypocrite when it comes to third party ads, which she has condemned when they’ve been aimed at her.
From Brown’s public letter to Warren, which the Boston Globe noted “was one of the most prominent examples of the senator himself confronting his challenger”:
Rather than adopt an elitist attitude with one set of rules for yourself and another for everyone else, I urge you once again to join me in calling for an end to all spending by third party groups,.
Warren essentially told Brown, you want it? You got it. From her letter, sent to reporters Friday:
If you are serious about stopping the political games and getting to the hard work of keeping out third party ads and independent groups, I’m ready…I propose that our agreement include television, radio and online advertisements from outside groups and third parties and further, that this agreement include consequences for the campaign that fails to honor this agreement.
The Hill reported last week that staff from the Warren and Brown campaigns are set to meet and negotiate the details of the anti-third party ad pact.
So now we move on to the big questions. First, can candidates really control what third party groups do in the age of Citizens United? The Brown-Warren matchup is as marquee as they come in 2012, and the nascent race has already proven itself to be a huge draw for outside spending from progressive groups (who have canonized Warren as their new national leader) and conservative groups (who would love to hang onto the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s [D] seat). It’s doubtful those groups would keep out — and stay out — if the race is close.
Usually letters like Brown’s are political stunts, designed to embarrass an opponent. Now that Warren’s said she’s game for a third party ad ban, we’ll see if it’s possible for candidates to have that much control over what people say on their behalf in the second cycle of the Super PAC.