Brown, Warren reach deal on Super PACs: But here’s a better idea

So out in Massachusetts, Senator Scott Brown (R. Ma.) and his likely challenger, Elizabeth (“How dare you use our
roads to ship your goods to us”) Warren have agreed on a pledge “banning third-party involvement in race,” as the
Boston Globe put it.

According to the Globe, Pro-Warren Super PACs have been bashing Senator Brown for some time now, so Brown did
what any good politician would do – tried to think of a way to silence them. His maneuver was a clever one, right
out of some oriental martial arts manual – he decided to turn Warren’s energy against her. The left is all worked up
about Super PACs and has spent most of the last two years desperately spreading as much misinformation and
alarmism about Super PACs as possible, so Brown decided to harness that. He challenged Warren to a “ban” on
“outside” participation in the campaign. After two years of Citizens United hysteria on the populist left that Warren
represents, she could scarcely do anything but agree, although apparently Brown had to push a bit to get a deal.

To enforce the deal, the candidates have agreed that if either benefits from outside participation (how to decide
“benefit” may be tough*), the “benefiting candidate” will give 50% of that amount to a charity chosen by the nonbenefiting
candidate. Further, the candidates have sent a letter to broadcast stations asking them to act as censors
and not run ads from “outside” groups. But recognizing the difficulty of enforcement, Professor Warren warns “both
campaigns will need to remain vigilant to ensure that outside groups do not try to circumvent what is an historic

Yes, both sides should remain vigilant, lest those pesky citizens actually add their voices to the campaigns.

Apparently, Trix are for kids, and campaigns are for candidates. The rest of you can p*** off.

I have a better idea. Why not agree that the campaigns will not spend any money, except for salaries for staff and
for travel. That would be much more easily enforceable, and we would know exactly who was breaking an
agreement and how much they were spending to break it. It would not require trying to muzzle citizen speech. It
would free both candidates from the onerous burden of fundraising, which we are constantly told is a major problem
that inhibits them from meeting with “real” voters, and it would free them from having to meet with donors, which
we are constantly told is a problem leading to corruption.
Think about it – it makes much more sense. Shut up the campaigns, and let the Super PACs do their jobs. The
candidates can shake hands, hold barbecues, and make speeches. Just like if they had their campaigns paid for by
the government.

Something tells me the candidates won’t agree. I suspect they believe that their speech is worth hearing, even if
they think that the speech of their fellow citizens is not.

*I’m not quite sure what they’ll do if I ever get that Smith Super PAC off the ground and run ads saying, “Brown (or
maybe I’ll use Warren), wants to cut your social security benefits. Isn’t it about time we had someone stand up to
the greedy Seniors lobby? Vote for Brown.”

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.