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Sound like a hyperlink applied to these items, click on the items and go to edit hyperlink and turn appearance type to invisible rectangle.
There's no way I know of to turn off the group bounding box, but I've never seen it ouside the actual bounds of the grouped objects, I'd guess, fom the screen shot, that you either have a Paper strok applied to the gray box, or the text frame is larger.
The larger question in my mind at the moment, though, is why you are using two frames to do this. Is there something that you haven't shown us that prevents using a gray fill on the text frame?
Yep, you were right—it was a hyperlink. Thanks!
It was actually a combination of three objects (one filled box, one text box, one image box), all to make a single "button"...which then had a hyperlink applied to the group (thus why the padded outline would disappear when I ungrouped it). Why on earth it was done this way...well, I'll pass that question on to the incompetent design who's given me the file for DPS production. <G> That said, I've rebuilt the button(s) into single objects (filled text box with anchored image), like it should have been built in the first place.