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Edwards Shakes Off Van Hollen's Outside Money Pledge

Edwards is competing against Van Hollen in Maryland's competitive Democratic primary. (File Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

On the heels of a fundraising quarter during which she was seriously out-raised by her Democratic rival, Rep. Donna Edwards said Thursday she disagreed with a proposal offered by Rep. Chris Van Hollen to try to keep outside money out of their race to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.  

Van Hollen’s campaign manager emailed Edwards' campaign manager Thursday morning asking her to join Van Hollen in signing the “Free State Pledge,” a proposal that would require the two campaigns to pay 50 percent of the cost of an outside-financed advertising buy to a charity of the opposing candidate’s choice.  

"This would send a strong signal to those in our state and across the nation who are working to lift the toxic cloud of unlimited outside money hanging over our elector process," Van Hollen wrote in a letter to Edwards.  

In a statement to CQ Roll Call, Edwards shrugged off Van Hollen’s proposal – accusing him of trying to silence “pro-choice Democratic women, working families and progressive advocates” that plan to offer her campaign their support.  

“Until we have real reform, it is wrong to silence progressives who believe it is important to have a pro-choice woman championing their cause in the US Senate just as Barbara Mikulski has done,” she said.  

There are no signs Van Hollen, who raised money for Democrats nationwide when he chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, will lose his fundraising advantage. He has more than $3.5 million in cash on hand and ended the quarter with more than three times the amount Edwards has in the bank.  

At the same time Van Hollen is likely to continue to build his war chest, Edwards is likely to get significant outside help from groups such as EMILY’s List (from which she hired her campaign manager), the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America.  

Both candidates have spoken out against the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Citizens United case, which allowed for unlimited money to be spent in campaigns by outside groups.  

Van Hollen has unsuccessfully sponsored the "DISCLOSE Act," which sought to increase transparency in the spending by outside groups. Edwards was one of the first members of Congress to introduce a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Citizens United ruling, but it has failed to gain enough traction to move through the House.  

Van Hollen’s proposal is not unlike Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s "Peoples Pledge 2014," which she signed with Sen. Scott P. Brown during her successful Senate bid in Massachusetts, or one suggested by Democrat Russ Feingold in his bid to unseat Sen. Ron Johnson in Wisconsin.  

Related:

Van Hollen, Edwards Square Off in First Maryland Senate Race Debate
Van Hollen Raises $1.5 Million in Second Quarter
Roll Call Race Ratings Map: Ratings for Every House and Senate Race in 2016

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