BOSTON (AP) — Staff members for Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and the state Republican Party are seen in a new video shouting war whoops and performing tomahawk chops in an apparent reference to Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren’s claims of Native American heritage.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Lana Jones reports
Brown said Tuesday he hadn’t seen the video, which surfaced online the day published reports outlined legal work Warren performed for a company fighting a federal mandate to pay additional money into a health care fund for retired coal miners.
The video shows supporters of Brown and Warren shouting and chanting. The video was posted online by the Democrat-leaning Blue Mass Group, which said it was recorded at a Brown rally on Saturday in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood. During the 46-second clip, supporters waving Brown signs are seen making tomahawk chopping motions with their arms and making war cries.
Brown, who won a 2010 special election to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, has made the question of Warren’s heritage a central theme of his campaign.
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, listed herself in law school directories as having Native American heritage, but records show she identified her race as “white” on an employment record at the University of Texas, where she worked from 1983 to 1987. Warren also has acknowledged telling officials at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania she had Native American heritage but said she offered that information only after she had been hired.
“I didn’t check a box to go to college. I didn’t check a box to go to law school,” she said Monday. “The only box I checked was in a directory. I didn’t do this to get a job.”
A Massachusetts Republican Party spokesman confirmed one of its field coordinators, Brad Garnett, is seen on the video leading the whoops and making tomahawk gestures. State Democratic officials identified another person making tomahawk motions as Jack Richard, a member of Brown’s U.S. Senate office.
Officials from Brown’s campaign and his Senate office wouldn’t say if any of their staffers were involved.
Brown stopped short of saying he would apologize to Native Americans or discipline any staffers if they had been involved.
“That’s not something I condone. That’s certainly something, if I am aware of it, I would tell that member not to do it again,” he said. “I know everyone is in the throes of the political season. I ask everyone to show real class and decorum on both sides.”
Brown said “the real offense is the fact that Professor Warren checked the box. She said she was white, and then she checked the box to say she was Native American.”
Warren has said she was told growing up that her mother was part Cherokee and part Delaware Indian, but she hasn’t offered any documentation of that heritage.
The video surfaced as the Brown campaign seized on reports of Warren, a consumer advocate, having done work in the 1990s for LTV Steel as it fought the mandated health care payments. The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald reported Warren was paid about $10,000 to assist in a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of the company, which was emerging from bankruptcy.
Congress in 1992 passed the Coal Act, which required companies to pay into the fund for long-term health care of retired miners and their families. LTV Steel said its responsibilities to the fund should have been addressed as part of bankruptcy proceedings.
Warren campaign spokeswoman Alethea Harney said the case involved bankruptcy principles and there was never any question miners would receive full benefits.
“Elizabeth is a bankruptcy expert and has fought for years for a strong bankruptcy system that makes sure retirees, employees, victims and others can demand payment from insolvent companies and get a fair shake,” Harney said in a statement, charging Brown with trying to distract from his Senate voting record.
Brown accused Warren of hypocrisy for campaigning in support of unions and the middle class while having done work for big corporations.
“It’s an issue of honesty and character,” he said.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.