WASHINGTON – A voting rights advocacy group is taking to the airwaves today with a campaign-style ad criticizing Senator Scott Brown for a vote to curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulatory power.
The League of Women Voters’ television spot accuses Brown, a Republican, of siding with polluters with his vote earlier this month that would have stripped EPA of its ability to regulate greenhouse gases. A similar ad aimed at Democrat Claire McCaskill will air in her home state of Missouri.
Brown and McCaskill are the only senators being targeted, and both are up for re-election in 2012. The spots have the appearance of issue ads that typically pop up during campaigns pointing out how candidates voted on particular issues. The ad buy is significant, costing over a million dollars, according to the company that produced it.
“It’s incredibly important that the people of Massachusetts and the people of Missouri have the facts about what the implications are of their senators’ votes,” Elisabeth MacNamara, national president of the League of Women Voters, said in an interview.
The ad targeting Brown is responding to an April 6 vote in which 50 senators voted in favor of a budget amendment that would have taken away the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse cases. The measure failed because it didn't garner the 60 votes needed to advance.
Colin Reed, a spokesman for Brown, said Brown is willing to work with both parties on environmental policy, but opposes giving the EPA power to impose what Reed called "new regulatory burdens on American businesses."
"Higher energy prices, more red tape and bureaucracy will kill jobs, and that is the last thing we need during these challenging economic times,” Reed said in an emailed statement.
Boston University journalism professor Fred Bayles said he was surprised to learn of the ads from a group that typically isn't known for its advocacy.
"It strikes me as sort of odd. And even though it's bipartisan in the sense that they go after a Republican and a Democrat, it's still political," he said.
MacNamara said the ads were not attack ads, and nor did they target Brown and McCaskill because of their upcoming elections – the votes of all 100 senators are available at an accompanying Web site. She acknowledged that “there is an accountability piece,” but said it was not related to their elections.
“These are not intended to at all attack these particular senators. They are designed to draw attention to the votes that were made by these two particular senators," she said.
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About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.