Candidates propose ‘People’s Pledge’ for US House race

Two of the five declared Democratic candidates for the congressional seat set to be vacated by Senator-elect Edward J. Markey have proposed a pact that would attempt to limit outside spending in the US House race.

State Senator Will Brownsberger and state Representative Carl Sciortino have both called for a “People’s Pledge” in the special election.

Sciortino referenced the pledge in his campaign kickoff announcement last week.

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“To preserve your role in our very democracy, I am prepared to sign the People’s Pledge and I encourage my opponents to join me,” Sciortino said, surrounded by supporters. He did not mention the specifics of the agreement he would support.

In a press release today, Brownsberger called on his opponents to ink an agreement that would work to limit outside spending on campaign advertisements and direct mail in the congressional race. He also called on his fellow candidates to eschew campaign contributions from political action committees and lobbyists, a step previous pledges have not addressed.

“I am urging my competition in this race to do as I’ve done, which is to live by my principles, refusing money that has no place in Massachusetts elections.” Brownsberger said in a statement.

During the 2012 race for US Senate in Massachusetts, Democrat Elizabeth Warren and Republican Scott Brown signed an agreement that effectively limited outside spending in their hotly contested race. The pledge required a financial payment to charity from the candidate every time an outside group spent money on television, radio or online campaign ads designed to benefit the candidate’s campaign.

Markey and Stephen F. Lynch signed a similar pledge during their US Senate Democratic primary this year. That pact included an additional effort to limit direct mail communications by outside groups.

But neither the Brown-Warren nor the Lynch-Markey agreement tried to limit political action committee contributions or those from lobbyists.

Two of the other declared Democratic candidates in the race, state Senator Karen Spilka and Middlesex County Sheriff Peter J. Koutoujian indicated support for some form of a pledge.

“Karen would happily sign the Warren-Brown pledge today,” said Spilka campaign manager Eric Hyers. But he called Brownsberger’s effort to limit contributions from political action committees or lobbyists “kind of silly.” Hyers said it was an attempt to change the rules halfway through the game, since a number of candidates have been raising funds for the race for months.

“Peter believes that unaccountable special interests and outside groups shouldn’t be running ads in this race and he fully supports a People’s Pledge in the campaign for the Fifth Congressional District,” Koutoujian spokesman Alex Goldstein said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for state Senator Katherine Clark, the other declared contender for the race’s Democratic nomination, did not respond to repeated requests for comment.