- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

BOSTON (AP) - Two of the top Democratic candidates running for Massachusetts governor are faulting each other for not being strict enough when it comes to opposing outside money in the election.

Attorney General Martha Coakley said she was surprised and disappointed Thursday following the formation of a super PAC by supporters of fellow Democratic gubernatorial hopeful state Treasurer Steven Grossman.

The recently formed Massachusetts Forward Together political action committee has listed supporting Grossman’s campaign as its main purpose in papers filed this week with the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.

“This election is about people and ideas, not big money and special interests,” Coakley said in a statement. “The formation of a super PAC by Grossman supporters is a giant step backward.”

Grossman responded hours later criticizing Coakley for accepting money raised by “a third party outside organization with a history of independent expenditures in Massachusetts political campaigns” and for failing to finalize a so-called “people’s pledge” aimed at barring ads from outside political groups.

Coakley has won the backing of EMILY’s List, a major fundraising group that helps elect Democratic women who support abortion rights to higher office.

The “people’s pledge” refers to an agreement that Republican Scott Brown and Democrat Elizabeth Warren hammered out in their 2012 U.S. Senate campaign. In last year’s special U.S. Senate election to fill John Kerry’s former seat, Democrats Edward Markey and Stephen Lynch agreed to a similar pledge.

“I was the first candidate to propose a “People’s Pledge,” and I was deeply disappointed that you and your staff rejected it,” Grossman said in a written statement. “You’re entitled to your own opinion, but you’re not entitled to your own set of facts.”

Coakley’s campaign used the formation of the super PAC to put out a fundraising email to supporters Thursday.

The email says Coakley has joined with 25 other state attorneys general in filing a brief with the Supreme Court to protect the states’ ability to regulate and restrict corporate political spending, and was the first state attorney general to support a constitutional amendment to reverse the court’s Citizens United decision.

That 2010 decision lifted restrictions on independent spending by corporations and labor unions.

Pam Wilmot, executive director of Massachusetts Common Cause, said the group is concerned by the formation of three super PACs in Massachusetts just this week.

One of the other new super PACS is the Commonwealth Future PAC, which says its main purpose is to support “candidates who will create jobs, grow the Massachusetts economy, and improve the economy.” Beth Lindstrom, a longtime Republican political operative, is listed as chairman of the group.

A third super PAC - the National Association of Government Employees PAC - lists Theresa McGoldrick as its chairman. McGoldrick is president of NAGE Unit 6, Local 207.

Wilmot said the creation of super PACs could lead to what she called a tidal wave of “dark money” spending in 2014.

She said state lawmakers should pass legislation that would “require real time disclosure of super PAC donors as well as close other loopholes that allow secret money to enter Massachusetts elections.”



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