Massachusetts Senate Race Still Steers Clear Of SuperPAC Interference (Mostly)

from the good-for-them dept

I'd meant to write about this back when it was first announced, but the story got lost in the sea of unwritten stories around here. But with On The Media providing an update, I can revisit it. There's been lots of talk this election season about the rise of SuperPACs and their ability to take unlimited funds and advertise for (or against) political candidates, so long as the candidates don't "coordinate" with the SuperPAC (with "coordination" defined rather loosely). Many of the really nasty attack ads often come from those SuperPACs. However, up in Massachusetts the two major party Senate candidates surprised a lot of people by calling a "truce" back in January against SuperPACs. The way the "pledge" works, is that each candidate agrees if a SuperPAC runs an ad attacking the other one, they'll donate half the ad's costs to a charity within a few days. While the suspicious among you might think that this would lead a SuperPAC to run counteradvertising against the candidate it likes to force the other side to pay up, in reality, it appears to have mostly worked, with very little SuperPAC money showing up in Massachusetts and the TV ads not being nearly as nasty, despite it being a close fight.

Of course, some SuperPACs can't resist. Last week, Brown's campaign admitted that it had donated over $35,000 after SuperPACs had put out ads supporting him, against his own wishes. But those were fairly minor from the sound of it. On the whole, compared to other similar races, the lack of SuperPAC funding has meant a (slightly) more reasonable campaign, with not quite as much smearing.

The obvious question, then, is will other candidates in other races agree to the same kind of pledge? Unfortunately, as the OTM segment notes, that's unlikely. In most cases, SuperPAC money really benefits one party over the other, and no one wants to give up such a major advantage, even if voters think they're really annoyed by negative advertising. Tragically (from a human nature perspective), it still seems like such ads have an impact. That's really too bad on multiple levels. It would be nice if we, as a country, actually moved to a more civilized electoral process. It just seems unlikely to actually happen.

Filed Under: campaigning, elizabeth warren, massachusetts, negative advertising, pact, politics, scott brown, superpacs

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  1. identicon
    Beech, 4 Sep 2012 @ 6:52pm

    Re: I don't get it

    Here's my view. This should be allowed:

    1) Company wants one political to win more than the other one.
    2) Company tells the public so.
    3) Public may or may not take company's opinion under advisement when voting.

    There should be nothing stopping a company from speaking freely about the political process. The sad thing is how it actually works:

    1) Typically, money spent on a campaign means more votes earned.
    2) Politicians become truly desperate for every dollar they can find to help ensure getting maximum votes.
    3) Companies provide money in exchange for favors (either implicitly or implied, now or later).

    The problem with companies being able to spend unholy amounts of moolah on politicians is that in the end it looks a LOT like bribery...mainly because that's what it is. If the RIAA thinks Obama/Biden is their best chance to get laws they like, they should TOTALLY be able to write a blog, tweet a tweet, write some emails, etc. What they should NEVER be allowed to do is say, imply, threaten, etc. anything along the lines of "Hey Obama/Biden, we're glad you got elected. Hey, remember all that money we dumped into your campaign funds and SuperPACS for you? Well we want a couple new laws. Oh, by the way, here's another campaign contribution. So anyway, yeah. New laws. And further contributions may be postponed til we get what we want."

    Free speech is one thing, outright bribery is another.

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