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editorial

Robocalls aren’t TV ads, but still violate spirit of pledge

In January, Republican Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren promised to keep outside groups out of their high-stakes Senate fight. Their pact specifically blocked super PACs, nonprofits, and other third-party groups from funding television, radio, or Internet ads on the candidates’ behalf. If either Brown or Warren is the beneficiary of such ads, that candidate must pay a financial penalty to charity.

Now, Crossroads GPS — a group backed by Republican consultant Karl Rove — is running robocalls in Massachusetts that attack Warren, in hopes of helping Brown. Since the candidates’ vow says nothing about mailings or phone calls, these ominous telephone messages do not technically violate the “People’s Pledge” signed by Brown and Warren. But surely they violate its spirit.

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