Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press

BOSTON (AP) — A meeting between top level staffers for Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and chief Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren has ended without a deal to curb political attack ads by outside groups.

Both sides went into the closed door meeting Friday afternoon saying they wanted to come up with a proposal designed to block the ads by third party organizations.

The meeting ended without an agreement, and with each campaign pointing a finger at their rival candidate.

Warren’s campaign faulted a proposal from Brown which they said wasn’t tough enough, while Brown’s campaign said Warren offered nothing but “talk and excuses.”

Brown has suggested that each candidate donate half the cost of any third-party ad — whether on television, cable, broadcast or online — to a charity of their choice if that ad either supports their candidacy by name or attacks their opponent, also by name.

Before the meeting, Brown went a step further, saying he and Warren should send joint letters to all outside groups urging they pull any ads, noting that — under the agreement — the ads would end up putting a financial penalty on the candidate the group is trying to help.

Brown also said the two should send joint letters to media outlets asking them to refuse to air any outside ads.

“I am willing to regard your signed agreement as your word, and accept that you will honor it,” Brown wrote in a letter to Warren. “We ought to be able to make such a pledge in simple and straightforward terms, without any fine print or legalese.”

Immediately following the meeting Warren’s campaign issued a statement saying Brown’s proposal “still includes loopholes that Karl Rove could drive a tank through,” referring to the Republican political operative.

Those “loopholes” include the need to come up with a better way to track online advertising spending in addition to the purchasing of ad time on radio and television stations.

Any deal also needs to address “sham organizations” that might try to take advantage of the deal to deliberately hurt a candidate, Warren’s campaign said.

“(Warren) remains confident that a strong, enforceable agreement can be reached, and is committed to getting something done that is more than political rhetoric,” the campaign statement added.

Brown campaign manager Jim Barnett said Brown has already put two proposals on the table and has “addressed every single concern that Professor Warren has raised.”

“She claims she wants to move beyond rhetoric, but so far she has offered nothing but talk and excuses,” he said. “It’s time to take yes for an answer.”

Although both campaigns have said they want to block the outside ads, it has been unclear how they would go about it.

Federal law bars candidates with coordinating with outside groups on campaign ads. Brown has previously said that he considered even calling up a group to ask them to pull an ad illegal under federal campaign finance laws.

On Friday, however, Brown’s campaign offered a draft of a letter that the campaigns could send to outside groups asking them not to run any ads in Massachusetts.

“We hope that you regard our pledge seriously as well, and undertake no political advertising in our Senate race for the duration of the 2012 election,” the letter reads in part.

There have already been ads from third party groups attacking both Brown and Warren.

Two of the ads were sponsored by Crossroads GPS, an affiliate of American Crossroads, a group with ties to Rove. Both went after Warren by name, apparently meeting the requirements of Brown’s proposed deal.

One ad used spliced images of Warren with rowdy Occupy Wall Street protesters to claim that she “sides with extreme left” protesters who “attack police, do drugs and trash public parks.” A second Crossroads ad then painted Warren as being too cozy with Wall Street.

Nate Hodson, a spokesman for American Crossroads, said Friday that Warren was “grasping at straws to keep her special interest friends in the race.”

The League of Conservation Voters and the League of Women Voters have spent a total of about $3 million on separate ad campaigns criticizing Brown.

The League of Women Voters’ ad rapped Brown for voting with other Senate Republicans to ban the Environmental Protection Agency from controlling gases blamed for global warming. They urged Brown to “protect the people and not the polluters.”

Another spot by the League of Conservation Voters slammed Brown for siding with “big oil.”

Both ads, because they named Brown, would also appear to meet Brown’s requirements, triggering a financial penalty under his proposal.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.


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