Brown continues offense on Warren over Native American claims
May 8th, 2012
02:52 PM ET
8 years ago

Brown continues offense on Warren over Native American claims

(CNN) - Republican Sen. Scott Brown, who's running to keep his seat representing Massachusetts, on Tuesday called for Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren to release confidential documents to show whether or not she claimed her Native American roots on job applications.

"The best way to satisfy these questions is for Elizabeth Warren to authorize the release of her law school applications and all personnel files from the various universities where she has taught," Brown said in a statement.

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Warren stirred controversy last week 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.

"I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am," Warren told reporters, according to Boston Herald. She added that she stopped checking off that box, as she felt it was an ineffective in expanding her social circles.

Opponents quickly seized on her comments, arguing she had tried to use minority status as a way to advance her career. Harvard's student newspaper The Crimson 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 last week, 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. NEHGS gathered that information through a 2006 family newsletter, and says the original application cannot be located.

While Brown's campaign has been critical of Warren during the controversy, his team took it a step further Tuesday when the incumbent senator himself urged his opponent to make public some of her private records.

Brown argued Warren's handling of the situation has "cast doubt on her credibility and called into question the diversity practices at Harvard."

Responding to his latest push, Warren's spokeswoman Alethea Harney accused Brown Tuesday of "shamelessly" trying to distract voters by calling attention to the issue.

"Once again, Republican Senator Brown is shamelessly attempting to divert attention from his record on the issues that really matter in this election, like the cost of student loans," Harney said in a statement to CNN, pointing to Brown's vote, along with other Senate Republicans, against a bill Tuesday aimed to prevent student loan interest rates from going up this summer.

"Minutes after Scott Brown voted with his Republican party to double interest rates on student loans, he ridiculously attacked Elizabeth Warren with questions that have already been answered," she added.

While most in the Senate agreed the interest rate should stay at its current level, Democrats and Republicans were divided over how to pay for the extension.

Last week, Warren said she was proud of her Native American heritage but added she was hired at Harvard for her teaching ability, not in an effort to bolster diversity on the university's faculty.

"Being Native American has been part of my story I guess since the day I was born," Warren said. "These are my family stories, I have lived in a family that has talked about Native American and talked about tribes since I was a little girl."

Despite Warren's claim to have embraced her Native American heritage as a child, she has largely avoiding referencing that background on the campaign trail and in her official biography.

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Filed under: 2012 • Elizabeth Warren • Massachusetts • Scott Brown • Senate
soundoff (40 Responses)
  1. Larry L

    The Republican "swift boat" always gets funded by the fat-cats. This dirty trick is just another "birther-type" attack – used because when you have no real issues you take Karl Rove's advice and lie, lie, lie... the bigger the better and the more trivial the better.

    This is designed to take eyes away from the fact that Scott Brown just voted to double student loans rather than close tax loopholes for the rich.

    May 8, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  2. Marie MD

    Oh please, from the man who pimped his daughters on election night. How's that going for you and them?
    Af least Warren is smarter than all tea tards elected in 2010 put together!

    May 8, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  3. The REAL Truth...

    LOL – if this is the best smoke and mirrors angle the Repugs can come up with on Warren, we are seeing the effects of the GOBP war on education. This is pitiful. They need to find some strategist whose daddies didn't pay their way thru college, or let them borrow $20,000 to go.

    May 8, 2012 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  4. J

    I also have Native American heritage and on occasion will select both that heritage and Caucasian if more than one is permitted on forms. The problem with trying to find ancestors records that claim "Cherokee, Seminole, etc." is that is was more beneficial to them to claim to be "White" if they could get away with it. I noticed on the 1940 census that my fulled-blooded Cherokee great-grandmother claimed "white" and could do so because she was described as having "sparkling blue eyes", which is common for Native American's from the southeastern part of the United States. I've never received any special status or benefit for listing my heritage and do so to honor my heritage.

    May 8, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    How honest is the Tea Party? The Tea Party claims that Democrats had a filibuster proof majority for two years. Brown was sworn in Jan. 2010, one year after Obama took office giving Republicans 41 votes in the Senate. Oh yeah, two of the "60" Democrats were actually Independents, particularly one Joe Leiberman of CT, who has been against Pres. Obama since the 2008 campaign and usually votes with Republicans.

    May 8, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  6. PaulCat

    ........after you release all the pictures you've taken with no cloths on..

    May 8, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  7. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Oh please, from a man who posed nude, give me a break.

    May 8, 2012 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  8. rs

    None of his business, or anyone else's. What is this obsession on the part of the GOP for people's personal and private records?

    May 8, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  9. Rickster

    lol....what a typical democrat clown Elizabeth Warren is. Guaranteed she has slopped out of the government trough her entire life and now she thought she had schemed up yet another angle to bilk the system. All of you bleeding-heart libs out there should be outraged that she concocted this fraud in order to advance herself and, in the process, cheated someone else out of a spot.

    May 8, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  10. dolfanndc

    This is the best Scott Brown has?!?! I guess when you are on the wrong side of the issues you have to try to distract the voters with this kind of nonsense.

    May 8, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  11. The Greedy Old Pigs declared class war on US!

    Brown sheds his mask and reveals himself to be the same intellectually and morally bankrupt GOBP cult member as all the rest. Typical GOBP behavior: Create meaningless non-issues to divert attention from his own failings. Brown scores bonus points for his subtle dogwhistle appeal to the racists as well, since he is implying Warren somehow sought to "benefit" from the same minority status that GOBP racists have attacked for years. Plus Wall Street loves Brown, which is all the reason anyone needs to vote for Warren.

    May 8, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  12. chelle

    Does she have a Native American background? YES. Then what is the problem??

    May 8, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  13. Roger

    Umm... who cares? It's not like she was posing nude and then requesting Scott Brown release proof of his heritage...

    May 8, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  14. Lisa P

    Brown's just marking time 'til his inevitable crushing defeat in November. You know if his campaign really had anything on Warren they would wait to spring it a week before the election. Now? Just filling the airwaves with noise and nonsense.

    May 8, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  15. Myviewis

    Warren contradicts herself "I listed myself in the directory in the hopes that it might mean that I would be invited to a luncheon, a group, something that might happen with people who are like I am," yet Warren won't commit to being Cherokee blood. She either is Cherokee descendant or not. You don't stop checking a box just because it is ineffective. You check the box because that is who you are. All her comments lead me to believe she lied and got caught by modern times of the internet.

    May 8, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  16. Bermille

    Republicans are too busy disclaiming any minority heritage for very specific reasons having to do with shame.

    May 8, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  17. Myviewis

    "she has largely avoiding referencing that background on the campaign trail and in her official biography." If she truly is Cherokee blood she would be claiming it on the campaign trail and official biography but she won't because she knows it is not true and legally doesn't want to get caught by lying on government legal forms.

    May 8, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  18. Independant Texan

    So what`s the big deal??? Many Americans whom have been here for over 100 yrs probably have Native American blood. So what ---- Sounds like a fishing expedition to me !!!!!

    May 8, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Ray E. (Georgia)

    Well Shucks,
    I am a "Native" American. I was born here. Of course my Ancesters were born in France, England, Scotland, etc. Truthfilly Mz. Warren doesn't look like a Native American to me. The country need more Liberals in the Senate so, it's Mz Warren all the way!!!

    May 8, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  20. Myviewis

    It doesn't surprise me that Harvard would have used her Cherokee story "late 90s quoting law school administrators hailing Warren's Native American heritage as evidence of faculty diversity."

    May 8, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. mcskadittle

    so i am sure that brown associated with white conservatives in college and that must have helped him. I don't see the point here

    May 8, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  22. Peg - AZ

    This simply proves that Brown can't compete on substance and needs a distraction – geez –

    Is there hardly anyone out there who was not told of a Native American ancestor? When I went to college, I was told to put this down as a trait no matter how small a % it was – that is what I was instructed from what I remember, I think it says to do so on the form – on the other side of the family it seems I'm actually likely distantly related to Kevin Bacon and share some relatives – maybe they should have a Kevin Bacon box on the form –

    Sorry Kevin, but when your roots go back that far.... you are simply related to a lot of random people... some of my Harrison relatives were at the first Thanksgiving –

    So this whole thing by Brown is just plain stupid

    May 8, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. mcskadittle

    Rickster: you are guaranteeing like its something you have proof of but don't. come back when you do know the facts

    May 8, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |

    Sen. Wall Street can keep trying to distract people from the fact that he's wall St's favorite senator. All it does is show you what the republican platform is: Smear! Run on issues Sen. Wall Street. Like why did you vote against keeping interest rates low on stuent loans? That's a legitimate argument.

    May 8, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. demwit

    I'm just a red blooded American, with no job.
    Oh wait.., my great, great, great, greatmother was from Alabama, so I must be 1/32 Cherokee too! Yeah, thats the ticket..

    May 8, 2012 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
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