Brown Calls on Harvard to 'Correct Record' on Elizabeth Warren's Heritage

By Trumbull, Mark | The Christian Science Monitor, May 25, 2012 | Go to article overview

Brown Calls on Harvard to 'Correct Record' on Elizabeth Warren's Heritage


Trumbull, Mark, The Christian Science Monitor


Sen. Scott Brown wants to know why Harvard listed his rival, Elizabeth Warren, as a native American professor. The issue has not tipped the race yet, but it could, the Brown camp says.

Sen. Scott Brown (R) of Massachusetts said Friday that Harvard Law School should "correct the record" regarding its past listing of Elizabeth Warren, his Senate-race rival, as a minority faculty member.

The issue has emerged as a controversy in recent weeks in what is shaping up to be the nation's top Senate race, as it became known that Ms. Warren had in the past classified herself as native American, based on a self-avowed ancestral connection, although she claims no current affiliation with an Indian community.

"The Boston Globe today has a story that states that Harvard may have violated federal guidelines in the reporting of diversity information because of what Elizabeth Warren told them," Senator Brown said in a statement released by his campaign. "I call on Harvard President Faust to immediately correct the record with the relevant federal agencies and uphold Harvard's 400-year-old tradition of abiding by the truth."

The freshman senator's nudge to Harvard comes after his campaign has also issued calls for Warren herself to "come clean" on the matter.

So far, important details on the issue remain murky, in part because Warren has not asked her employers (at Harvard and, before that, at the University of Pennsylvania) to release personnel records related to her hiring. Here are some things that are known: She placed herself on a list of "minority" law professors in a national directory of law schools during the 1980s and early '90s, and Harvard claimed she was a native American faculty member, but by the late 1990s she had dropped her name from the directory's minority listing.

While the two rivals are campaigning on numerous policy differences, the question of Warren's self-listing as a minority has become the campaign's most prominent issue that touches on personal character and credibility. The question takes on added significance because Warren has built her public persona in part by pushing for greater accountability by Wall Street banks. Her critics, including some Democrats, say she has failed to show accountability herself.

A poll this week showed the two candidates virtually equal in their support from likely voters in Massachusetts. Warren must also win the Democratic nomination in a Sept. 6 primary, and so far is running far ahead of challenger Marisa DeFranco, an immigration lawyer.

In Friday's statement, Brown pushed back against Warren for implying that he's raising a nonissue. "This Native American controversy is a problem of Elizabeth Warren's own making. She falsely described herself as a minority and some of the schools where she worked relied on that information to misrepresent the diversity of their faculty," Brown said.

Warren has said she did not seek to use minority status for advantage when seeking teaching jobs, including at Harvard. She has said she wasn't aware of being viewed as a minority hire until she saw it in recent news reports.

"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 said on May 2, according to a report in the Boston Herald the next day. "Nothing like that ever happened, that was clearly not the use for it, and so I stopped checking it off."

One loose end in the saga is very basic: Does Warren really have native American roots?

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Brown Calls on Harvard to 'Correct Record' on Elizabeth Warren's Heritage
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