Republican US Sen. Scott Brown on Monday launched a new television ad highlighting Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren's claims of Native American heritage as Democrats faulted him for not doing more to reveal the occupations of his top donors.
Brown's 30-second ad features clips of news reports on Warren's Native American claims, for which she has been unable to provide any proof. Brown's ad brought a prompt response from Warren, who in her own 30-second ad, released late Monday, said she was told as a child that her mother was part Cherokee and part Delaware Indian and that her parents had to elope because her father's family wasn't happy with her mother's heritage.
Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, had listed herself in law school directories as having Native American heritage, although she said she gained no advantage. She's also acknowledged telling officials at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania that 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. The only box I checked was in a directory," Warren said during an interview earlier Monday on WTKK-FM. "I didn't do this to get a job."
Records show Warren declined to apply for admission to Rutgers Law School under a minority student program and identified her race as "white" on an employment record at the University of Texas, where she worked from 1983 to 1987.
Brown, who won a 2010 special election to succeed the late Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy, has called onWarren to release her personnel records. Warren again declined on Monday, saying her background had no impact on her hiring.
Charles Fried, a member of the committee that reviewed Warren for the Harvard post, has said the question of her ancestry was never mentioned.
Democrats, in turn, faulted Brown on Monday for failing to identify the employers or occupations of a higher percentage of big money donors than Warren.
According to Federal Election Commission reports, more than 16 percent of donors to Brown's campaign did not identify where they worked or what they did for a living. The donors accounted for $2.1 million of the $13.1 million Brown collected in donations over $200.
That compares with less than 2 percent for Warren. Those donors accounted for about $248,000 of the more than $16 million Warren collected in donations over $200. Campaigns do not have to give itemized lists of donors who give less than $200.
The story was first reported by the Patriot Ledger.
Brown's campaign said it has followed all FEC requirements, including sending letters to those donors asking them for information about their employers and occupations.
"Scott Brown is in full compliance with all rules and regulations," said Brown campaign manager Jim Barnett, noting that other elected officials including President Barack Obama have similar rates of compliance.
Barnett said Democrats are trying to distract attention from "the swirling controversy Warren caused by forging her identity in pursuit of professional advancement."
Democrats, however, said that the employers and occupations of many of those on Brown's campaign finance records, including former presidential nominee Bob Dole, could easily be verified by a simple Internet search.
Warren also weighed in on two high-profile ballot questions on Massachusetts' November ballot.
Asked if she supports a question that would legalize the medical use of marijuana, she said she held her father's hand when he was dying of cancer and there was talk at the time if marijuana could have eased the pain.
"If there's something a physician can prescribe that can help someone who's suffering, I'm in favor of that," she said.
Warren, asked about a ballot question that would allow terminally ill adults to self-administer life-ending drugs, said she would lean toward giving dying patients more freedom.
Brown has said he's opposed to the marijuana question but is still weighing the life-ending drugs question.
The new Brown ad could mark a shift in the tone of the campaign. Warren previously released an ad that said Brown is on the "big money guys."
The lack of sharper political ads until now has been the result in part of the People's Pledge, signed by both candidates, to discourage outside groups and political action committees from launching attack ads.