There's a little war of letters going on in the Massachusetts 6th District congressional race about the use of outside PAC - political action committee -money.
On Monday, U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, published a letter to Republican challenger Richard Tisei of Wakefield challenging him to adopt the "People's Pledge."
The sixth district includes most of the North Shore and Cape Ann, including Hamilton and Wenham.
The pledge refers to an agreement between Sen. Scott Brown and challenger Elizabeth Warren to disavow third-party ads in what has arguably become the most expensive Senate race in the nation.
Super PACs - independent advocacy groups that are allowed to spend unlimited amounts of money for ads without complete disclosure of funding - have become increasingly scrutinized during this election season.
Earlier this year, Tisei criticized Tierney for receiving so much of his campaign funding from special interest groups.
"So, since you and I so clearly agree on this principle, and since Ms. Warren and Senator Brown agree on the exact same idea, I challenge you to join me in taking a stand on this issue and in signing the exact same 'People's Pledge' as Ms. Warren and Senator Brown," Tierney wrote.
Later on Monday, Tisei published a response to Tierney, seeming to scoff at Tierney's suggestion and saying that Tierney's campaign has been dependent on PAC money and noting that he has called on Tierney to stop accepting money from outside interests, including unions.
“Admitting you have a problem is the first step of recovery," Tisei wrote. "I haven’t depended on outside money. John Tierney has and continues to depend on PAC money from Washington. Tierney, who now says he ‘feels strongly’ about the influence of outside money, can show that he’s serious by practicing what he is preaching – if he really believes what he is now saying."
"John Tierney is a PAC addict," Tisei continued. "He has been for years. Is he finally admitting that he has a problem?”
Then on Tuesday, Tisei published a letter of his own to Tierney, calling on Tierney to limit PAC influence in the campaign.
“The most direct and immediate way that you and I can limit the influence of outside money into this campaign is to prohibit or limit PAC contributions," Tisei wrote. "We can do that today. Over-reliance on PAC money diminishes the voice of the average citizen in our representative government. That is a very real reason that so many voters feel such a disconnect between themselves and their elected officials."
And on Tuesday afternoon, Tierney issued a response to Tisei's response to Tierney's initial letter.
"I am encouraged that Mr. Tisei appears close to agreeing to the People's Pledge that I proposed yesterday, and has agreed to begin discussions with my campaign," Tierney wrote. "I am hopeful that we can agree to move forward on signing this pledge. The People's Pledge that Senator Brown and Elizabeth Warren signed has become the gold standard for maintaining clean, fair elections in Massachusetts and has become a national model that has been recognized by election reform organizations, editorial boards, and citizen activists around the country. It is already working to keep money from corporations and singularly wealthy ideologues — who don't even have to identify themselves — out of our elections here in Massachusetts. I look forward to signing it and having a clean, fair election that is decided by the people, not swayed by attack ads run by outside organizations."
Check back with Patch for further updates in this interesting -- if not seemingly endless -- discussion.