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Brown agrees to pay fine to uphold “People’s Pledge”

Republican US Senator Scott Brown has agreed to pay a fine to honor “The People’s Pledge,” the first such penalty since he and Democrat Elizabeth Warren agreed to mutually police advertising from outside political committees.

The infraction appears to be a small one. A group called CAPE PAC is running Google ads promoting Brown. The ads are linked to the group’s website, which solicits donations. The cost of the ad campaign will not be known until the group files its federal campaign reports, but the organization does not appear to have advertised extensively.

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Brown and Warren signed a ground-breaking agreement in January. It requires the candidates to notify outside groups that they do not want them to advertise on their behalf on television, radio, or the Internet. And if they do, the candidate who benefits from the ad is supposed to donate half the value of the ad to a charity chosen by his or her opponent.

Brown’s campaign has promoted the pledge and today issued a press release headlined “Brown Takes Immediate Action to Honor People’s Pledge.”

“This is the first instance that has come to our attention of a group running ads in support of Scott Brown, and although they are positive ads, they are covered by the People’s Pledge,” campaign manager Jim Barnett said in a statement. “Scott Brown is a man of his word. We are taking steps now to notify this group of the terms of our agreement, we will pay the agreed upon contribution to the charity of Professor Warren’s choice, and we hope and expect this group will honor Senator Brown’s wishes that they cease these online ads immediately.”

The Brown campaign said it learned about the group after a question from a reporter. In its release, the Brown campaign accused two pro-Warren groups of violating the pledge in the days after it was signed, also by placing Google ads. The ads were taken down a few days later, but Warren paid no fine.

Warren’s campaign has not yet specified a charity to which the Brown campaign must now donate.

“It’s disappointing that a pro Mitt Romney super PAC is breaking the pledge, advertising on behalf of Scott Brown,” Warren spokeswoman Alethea Harney said. “Elizabeth sees the pledge as an important way to keep outside parties out of this race.”

Noah Bierman can be reached at nbierman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.
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