Friday May 24, 2013

BOSTON -- Democratic U.S. Senate hopeful Edward Markey agreed Thursday to release his tax returns dating back to 2005, one more year than was previously released by his opponent Gabriel Gomez, in a day of campaigning in which money from outside groups was at issue as well.

Markey, a veteran U.S. congressman, will make public the tax returns Friday, according to spokesman Andrew Zucker, after strong pressure from Gomez and state Republican leaders to disclose the information.

Zucker also called on Gomez to release his own 2005 return, which could include additional details about a $281,000 deduction that Gomez took for promising not to alter his historic Cohasset home.

In another campaign development Thursday, a deep-pocketed outside environmental group that had spent nearly $900,000 during the Democratic primary said that it would back Markey in the election, though Markey publicly called on the group to stay out of the race.

Environmental activists led by California billionaire Thomas Steyer promised to return to Massachusetts to work against Gomez after spending nearly $900,000 in the Democratic primary that Markey won.

But Markey signed a so-called "People’s Pledge" in the primary race that discouraged outside groups from buying advertisements. race that Warren won.

Gomez declined to sign a pledge with Markey, leaving outside groups including NextGen free to spend on ads.

Chris Lehane, a spokesman for the NextGen Committee, said in a memo that the group planned to be a "politically disruptive force."

The candidates also agreed Thursday to a second debate sponsored by a Boston media consortium in the studios of WGBH-TV. It will be held June 18, exactly one week before the election.

The candidates have wrangled over debates in recent days, with both sides accusing each other of foot-dragging. They have agreed on only one other, a June 5 debate sponsored by WBZ-TV and The Boston Globe.

Gomez, a political newcomer, has called for four debates and accused Markey, a 36-year veteran of Congress, of trying to duck them.

But the Markey campaign says it has been stymied by the Gomez campaign in its attempts to negotiate a debate schedule.