Scott Brown Laughs Off the Idea of Another No-Outside-Money Campaign Pledge

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 17 2014 11:45 AM

Scott Brown Laughs Off the Idea of Another No-Outside-Money Campaign Pledge

Back in December, the conservative 501(c)(4) Ending Spending spent $100,000 to run this ad in New Hampshire.

In January, Americans for Prosperity spent $700,000 on New Hampshire media for a very similar ad. Not that they were coordinating—hey, "if you like your plan" is the goose that keeps on laying eggs.

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It was into this climate that the Senate Majority PAC, a pro-Democratic group, finally struck. It dumped $150,000 on this ad, which angered Scott Brown. "Not even a candidate and they are in attack mode," he told Politico. "Is that even legal?"

The point of the Ending Spending/AFP buy was to encourage someone—OK, to encourage Brown—to enter the race. Come in, water's fine, money's flowing. Brown was obviously encouraged, by a number of factors, to enter the race. 

So over the weekend, while on a West Coast fundraising tour with the DSCC, Shaheen issued a statement asking if Brown would sign a new version of the leave-us-alone pledge he signed in his 2012 Senate race. That year, when he started out with a huge fundraising advantage against first-time candidate Elizabeth Warren, Brown agreed to a "People's Pledge," a sort of Citizens United START Treaty, that cut outside spending to about one-tenth of what the candidates themselves spent.

Would Brown do it again, with Shaheen? No.

"Before I even thought of becoming a candidate, Jeanne Shaheen's allies in Washington were running negative ads against me for months," said Brown in a statement. "And right now, while I'm meeting with the people of New Hampshire, she is on the West Coast raising money so third-party groups in D.C. will have money to run even more outside negative ads against me. It's hard to view Jeanne Shaheen's actions as anything other than hypocritical and self-serving. The people of New Hampshire can see through the Washington-style game she is playing."

If you're a gourmond for chutzpah, you've got to enjoy that statement. Brown, the guy who moved up the highway after losing a Senate seat in his home state, is the one "meeting with the people of New Hampshire." (He is right now, but come on.) The pro-Shaheen PAC's ad buy, less than one-fifth as big as the anti-Shaheen ad buy, represented an unconscionable offense. By coincidence, American Crossroads is about to spend $650,000 on ads for Brown, days after he started an exploratory committee. The chutzpah has a purpose: In other circumstances, Brown might look like he's hypocritically going back on a good-campaign standard now that he needs the outside money.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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