NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

Election Connection

September 21, 2012

Brown, Warren spar over her role in asbestos case

BOSTON (AP) — The candidates in the closely-watched Massachusetts U.S. Senate race looked to seize the momentum coming off their first head-to-head debate of the campaign.

Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown went back on the offensive Friday, again criticizing Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren's role in a complex U.S. Supreme Court case involving a mining company that set up a trust fund for victims of asbestos poisoning. Brown claimed the Harvard Law School professor was paid nearly $250,000 by Travelers Insurance to help defend the company against asbestos poisoning settlements.

The Republican has raised the issue before, including during Thursday night's debate. Warren has said her role was that of a consultant in the case involving a mining company and that she defended the use of trust funds to ensure that all asbestos victims would be paid.

"You see, Professor Warren is not just a Harvard professor," Brown said at a news conference at his campaign headquarters. "She is also a hired gun, and in the case of Travelers Insurance — she was hired to get them off the hook for settlements sought by victims of asbestos poisoning."

Brown said the case undermines the Democratic campaign's claim that Warren, who helped create a federal consumer protection agency after the Wall Street meltdown, always stands up for workers over big corporations.

The Warren campaign struck back quickly on Friday, making available David McMorris, a lawyer who represented asbestos victims in the case. He strongly defended Warren's role and accused Brown of launching an unfair attack.

"It's a completely dishonest, misleading, and I would say intentionally misleading ploy by Senator Brown, and it's really shameful," said McMorris, who was joined by a representative of the asbestos workers union.

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