Brown doesn't 'condone' staffers' actions
September 25th, 2012
03:35 PM ET
6 years ago

Brown doesn't 'condone' staffers' actions

(CNN) – Republican Sen. Scott Brown, engaged in one of the nation's closest battles for U.S. Senate against Democrat Elizabeth Warren, said Tuesday he does not condone the offensive gestures and sounds some of his staffers made at a rally this week.

The Brown staffers were captured on video making "war whoops" and "tomahawk chops," an apparent reference to the controversy surrounding Warren's claim to Native American heritage during her time as a professor at Harvard Law School. Both Brown and Warren released television spots Monday on the topic.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

- Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

The staffers in the video were identified by CNN affiliate WCVB as deputy chief of staff Greg Casey and constituent service counsel Jack Richard. Other state Republican officials are also seen on the tape, which was taken by Democratic activists and posted to YouTube.

Asked about the tape Tuesday at a press availability at Boston's South Station, Brown said he hadn't seen the footage but did not support the actions as described by reporters.

"That's not something I condone. It's certainly something that if I am aware of it, I'll tell that member to never do it again," Brown said, before launching into an attack on Warren's claims to Native American heritage.

"The real issue here is, and the real offense, is the fact that Professor Warren checked the box. She said that she was white, and then she checked the box saying she was Native American and then she changed her profile in the law directory once she attained her tenure," Brown said. "That's quite offensive to Native Americans."

In May, Warren stirred controversy when she confirmed that she had described herself in faculty directories as having Native American heritage while teaching at Harvard Law School. She said she did so in order to meet others with similar backgrounds.

Opponents quickly seized on her comments, arguing she had tried to use minority status as a way to advance her career. The Crimson, Harvard's student newspaper, printed articles in the late '90s quoting law school administrators hailing Warren's Native American heritage as evidence of faculty diversity.

The New England Historic Genealogical Society provided CNN with initial research showing several members of Warren's maternal family claiming Cherokee heritage. The Native American link extends to Warren's great-great-great grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith, who is said to be described as Cherokee in an 1894 marriage license application. The genealogical society gathered that information through a 2006 family newsletter and said the original application cannot be located.

Monday, Brown's campaign released a television spot compiling newscasts reporting on Warren's claims. The ad, designed to cast doubt on Warren's trustworthiness, ends with a reporter asking Warren if there is anything that will "come out about you that we don't already know."

"I don't think so, but who knows," Warren responds.

Warren fired back in an ad of her own, saying Brown was attacking her family.

"As a kid, I never asked my mom for documentation when she talked about our Native American heritage," Warren says in the spot. "What kid would? But I knew my father's family didn't like that she was part Cherokee and part Delaware, so they had to elope."

"Let me be clear. I never asked for or never got any benefit because of my heritage," she continues, addressing the central concern that Brown has brought up on the campaign trail and at the candidates' first debate last week. "The people who hired me have all said they didn't even know about it."

CNN's Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

Filed under: Elizabeth Warren • Massachusetts • Scott Brown • Senate
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. mike

    Poor republicans are losing bad. Thank god Jesus was a liberal Jew.

    September 25, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  2. Kef14

    Typical republican stuff. How many were saying sick people without insurance should just die while doing their tomahawk chops? Probably all of them.

    September 25, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  3. Kwasi

    Let us not go there about a Republican who lied about the extent of his military service.

    September 25, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    Time for some "resignations" or you are tacitly condoning it!!!!!

    September 25, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  5. cali girl

    Peggy in TX I agree with you. There are blond hair blue eyed Mexicans that come from families with the tan skin tones. It is a trow back to genetics and children can take on any many looks.

    September 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  6. truth hurts

    So Warren and her LSM supporters are upset about people pointing out with gestures she lied about her heritage in order to gain advantage?!! WHO CARES??!!! STOP LYING to people!! THAT is the issue!!

    September 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  7. GI Joe

    Sooooooo republican. Brown, and obviously members of his staff, are small and petty people. Let's see how they feel when they pack up to move out of their plush offices in a few months.

    September 25, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. GI Joe

    She doesn't have to "prove" anything to anyone. She didn't use the fact to get any advantage. By the way, you can't just "claim" to be "minority" to get in anything - you have to prove it. So she didn't USE IT.

    September 25, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    So, Victoria, how do you actually feel about the context of the article, about Brown staffers making an overtly racist gesture? Do you think he should take responsibility or not for the actions of his staff? We're waiting....

    September 25, 2012 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  10. Malory Archer


    Republicans are so UGLY.


    And if anyone doubts Norm's words, all they have to do is take a look at the ugly full-page anti-Obama lie running in today's Sarasota Herald Tribune.

    September 25, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. The Real Tom Paine

    -truth hurts

    So Warren and her LSM supporters are upset about people pointing out with gestures she lied about her heritage in order to gain advantage?!! WHO CARES??!!! STOP LYING to people!! THAT is the issue!!
    I agree. Tell that to Romney, Ryan, and every other GOP candidate. Start with them, and see how far you get, Junior.

    September 25, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  12. Zenger Folkman

    Grow up, GOPers

    September 25, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |

    OMG Put you all back in Chains Biden doesn't get called out for something that actually came out of his mouth. You going to hold Stef Cutter and Debbie Wassmerman Schultz accountable for actually lying ?? Scott Brown should say he will talk to them its inappropriate and move on.

    September 25, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  14. ExRepublican

    Scott Bown staff make fun of indian heritage by doing chops...Scott is another disgrace undercover republican.
    Warren you will win the race because we are sick of these republican clowns messing our country.
    Vote all republicans out of the office.

    September 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  15. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    When some people are starring at a loss, they go real ignorant on you because that's who they are to begin with, just plain ignorant.

    September 25, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  16. Jokers

    This is such a non issue but I'm a bit concerned that some low info voters may buy into it. I would advise the Elizabeth Warren campaign that the best way to combat this is to expose its ridiculousness by mocking it. That's how President Obama so effectively combats all the silly accusations leveled at him.
    I don't think Elizabeth Warren's approach in her ad trying to show her as a victim will be effective.
    Scott Brown should instead be forced to explain why he's such a darling of Wall Street, getting the most Wall Street donations than any other member of congress - Dem or Repug! Scott Centerfold Brown is such a joke

    September 25, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |

    Brown is just one mean heartless person! Vote ALL the Repub/tea party out!

    September 25, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  18. Facts don't Lie

    @ truth hurts

    "WHO CARES? STOP LYING to people." Hey for once I AGREE with you..tell Ryan and Romney to stop lying about welfare, medicare, and taxes amongs other things to the American people. And I am talking about things they have said that even some Republicans say are not true.

    September 25, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    "Scottie doesn't condone his staffers' actions, but doesn't have the stones to fire them ... what a desperate, whimpy little man he is ... "

    Indeed he is.

    September 25, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. Randy, San Francisco

    Sen Scott Bown's character is reflected in his staff's childish and racist behavior. It brings into question his assertions that Warren lied about her native heritage.

    September 25, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  21. Peggy - TX

    She did not lie. She did not say she was a minority to get an affirmative action job at Harvard. You have exactly Zero proof that she did, becasue she did not. She does not need to release her records just becasue you made up an accusation that has no substance. The earlier refrence to a bone head right wing article without taking a single quote is absurd and not a valid argument at all. The fact that the bloggers are going on and on and on about this and the Canidate is filling te void with thios argument shows just how extrodinary weak Brown is. Weak argument, Weak debate performanace, Weak intellectually, Weak politically as a Senator, Weak leader... Weak... Weak......

    September 25, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  22. B.

    Brown is a Disgrace even to the republicans. The man is incompetent.

    September 25, 2012 04:41 pm at 4:41 pm |
  23. ghostriter

    Nice. Obama has to prove he was born here, Warren has to prove that she's part native american.

    Yet Mittens can't release tax records.

    September 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  24. Arun

    The moron has nothing else to run on. Why don't repube candidates talk about issues instead of attacking all the time. Oh yeah, because their policies suck and they know it!!!!

    September 25, 2012 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  25. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Brown started it with the "just look at her" moment referencing that he can tell by the way a person looks what race they are. What an ignorant man. What a stupid comment. It reminds me of the comment John McCain said as he pointed at Obama and said "That One".

    September 25, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
1 2 3