BOSTON (AP) — Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown is apologizing for suggesting Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren used paid actors in political ads defending her legal work in an asbestos lawsuit.
Brown made the comment during a campaign stop Wednesday in Taunton.
The Taunton Daily Gazette reported that Brown was asked how Warren got family members of asbestos victims to appear in her ads.
“A lot of them are paid,” Brown said. “We hear that maybe they pay actors. Listen, you can get surrogates and go out and say your thing. We have regular people in our commercials. No one is paid. They are regular folks that reach out to us and say she is full of it.”
Warren immediately condemned the remarks.
“Scott Brown calling asbestos victims who have lost loved ones paid actors is a new low. Shameful,” Warren tweeted.
Brown’s campaign quickly issued a statement from Brown apologizing for the remarks.
“It was wrong for me to have jumped to those conclusions and I apologize to those I offended,” Brown said.
In one of the Warren ads, Kingston resident Virginia Jackson talks about how her husband died in 1990 of mesothelioma — a cancer linked to asbestos — after he was exposed while working at a Quincy shipyard.
In the ad, Jackson credits Warren for going “all the way to the Supreme Court to try to get more money for asbestos victims.” She says Brown should be “ashamed” for using victims’ suffering to help himself.
Jackson called Brown’s comments hurtful.
“What Scott Brown said today is so offensive to me and my family after what we went through,” Jackson said in a statement released by the Warren campaign.
John English, who appeared in a Warren ad talking about how his father died from mesothelioma, also took offense to Brown’s comments.
“Let Scott Brown tell me to my face that I am nothing but a paid actor, and I’ll set him straight on what it was like to watch my father suffocate to death,” English said in a statement also released by the campaign.
Brown has faulted Warren for being paid nearly $250,000 by Travelers Insurance to help defend the company against asbestos poisoning settlements.
Brown has also run ads saying Warren helped Travelers limit the amount of money victims of asbestos poisoning would get. In one ad, a narrator says “the results were disastrous for victims.”
Warren’s campaign has called Brown’s allegations false and misleading.
Warren, a bankruptcy expert, argued in the 2009 Supreme Court case that Travelers should be protected from future lawsuits from victims because such suits would prevent similar trusts from being created, making it impossible for all victims to be paid.
In another Brown ad, a woman identified only as Andrea from Canton talks about how her father painted asbestos onto pipes in a shipyard and how mesothelioma is a “brutal killer.” She also says insurance companies “used their money and lawyers to fight against victims.”
“Elizabeth Warren worked for the most powerful insurance company of all. She was not on the side of victims,” the woman says in the ad.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.