Elizabeth Esty

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty's campaign has rejected a call by Republican rival Mark Greenberg to restrict the role of Super PACs in the 5th District race. (Michael McAndrews / Hartford Courant / November 6, 2012)

Democrat Rep. Elizabeth Esty's campaign is rejecting a call by her Republican rival Mark Greenberg to restrict the role of Super PACs in the 5th District race.

"This is just a deceptive ploy from an ultra-rich Tea Party candidate who's been running for Congress for six years and has already spent $3 million of his personal fortune in two failed attempts,'' Esty campaign spokeswoman Laura Maloney said.

Greenberg on Friday challenged Esty to join him in asking third-party groups such as the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, to stay out of the race.

Such an agreement, known as a "people's pledge," is modeled after a pact made by U.S. Senate candidates Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown in Massachusetts in 2012. Since then, several other candidates have taken pledges; this year in Rhode Island, all three of the major Democratic candidates for governor -- Clay Pell, Gina Raimondo and Angel Taveras -- have signed a similar agreement.

"The Greenberg campaign is offering to reach agreement with the Esty campaign on a mutually agreeable Transparency Pledge for the remainder of the 2014 race,'' the Greenberg campaign said in a statement announcing the proposal. "The Greenberg campaign asks that each campaign call on all third party groups — super PACs, PACs, NRCC, DCCC, and others to stay out of the 5th District race. If a group does spend money on behalf or in support of either campaign, the campaign receiving the support will donate dollar for dollar to their opponent's charity of choice."

But Maloney said Greenberg's personal wealth would give him an unfair advantage, despite his offer to limit outside spending. She cited an interview where Greenberg said he would spend whatever it takes to get elected.

"Unlike Greenberg, Elizabeth isn't bankrolling her own campaign,'' Maloney said. "She is proud of the support she's received from thousands of folks across Connecticut and across the country who believe in her and the work she's been doing to put middle class families first."