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Brown reviewing Gansler’s ‘dark money’ challenge

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown

Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (Maximilian Franz/The Daily Record)

One day after challenging fellow Maryland Democratic gubernatorial candidates to forgo independent expenditures in the 2014 campaign, Doug Gansler stands alone.

Gansler on Tuesday called on his rivals, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Del. Heather Mizeur, to voluntarily agree to a pledge that prohibits “third party non-candidate entities or organizations from spending money on radio, cable, online advertising, and direct mail that names any of the candidates for governor.”

So far, neither Brown’s nor Mizeur’s campaign has agreed to sign on to the pledge.

“We are reviewing the pledge but frankly our campaign is focused on organizing a grassroots effort to deliver our message to voters about our vision for Maryland’s future,” Justin Schall, Brown’s campaign manager, wrote in an email response to questions. “The law in Maryland clearly prohibits our campaign, or any other campaign, from working or coordinating with an independent expenditure committee. We will absolutely abide by the law and run a clean and transparent campaign.”

Signing such a pledge could place Brown and some supporters in a difficult spot. The Maryland State Education Association has already spent money on ads supporting Brown following the union’s endorsement of the lieutenant governor at its convention last month in Ocean City, according to the Washington Post.

“Whether intentional or not, the pledge would shut out the very voices we’ve worked so hard to get involved in the political process,” said Sean Johnson, assistant executive director of political and legislative affairs for the state teacher’s association, told the paper Tuesday.

The Mizeur campaign declined to comment on Gansler’s request. A spokesman said Tuesday that the Montgomery County delegate was busy preparing for a Silver Spring event Wednesday night at which she will announce her running mate.

Jennifer Bevan-Dangel, executive director of Common Cause Maryland, said the pledge would allow for more discussion of issues by eliminating independent expenditures or so-called “dark money.”