Political Intelligence

Senate candidates’ forthrightness put to test

Democrat Elizabeth Warren has been fielding questions about her income taxes and ancestry.
Josh Reynolds for The Boston Globe
Democrat Elizabeth Warren has been fielding questions about her income taxes and ancestry.

The leading candidates in the US Senate race have faced a variety of situations in recent days that offered atypical testimony to their forthrightness.

Two weeks ago, it was how they handled releasing their income tax returns. Last week, it was how Democrat Elizabeth Warren dealt with questions about how she characterized her ethnic heritage while climbing the academic ladder.

Stephan Savoia/AP
Scott Brown has been dealing with questions about his taxes and his family’s health insurance.

At the same time, the incumbent, Scott Brown, was confronted with questions about how he handled his family’s health insurance after his repeated calls to repeal the Obama administration’s health care law.


On the first topic, Brown granted almost 100 percent of the Globe’s request for copies of the candidates’ tax returns for the past six years. The Republican also was more proactive in their handling.

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The day before the returns were released, Brown’s staffers told reporters they would e-mail a summary of the bottom line figures in each return the following morning, and also make the full returns available for inspection at his campaign headquarters at 9 a.m. And they announced a public event where the senator would be available for follow-up questions.

By contrast, Warren released only four years of her returns. She used the Internet to post the same type of bottom line figures as Brown - 90 minutes after he released his returns - as well as the summary pages of each of her own returns. Her campaign made the full returns available for inspection only after reporters asked her for them. And Warren said she would take questions only after reporers asked to speak with her.

Meanwhile, the Harvard Law School professor spent much of last week fine-tuning her explanation about what, if any, role her Native American heritage played in her career.

Initially, Warren said she was not aware that Harvard had described her as a Native American.


Then, news organizations reported that she had listed herself as such in a major legal directory. Then her campaign released statements from her employers saying her heritage played no role in her hiring.

Then Warren told reporters she believed she had Native American lineage because of family stories, including one relative’s frequent comments about the “high cheekbones’’ of Warren’s grandfather.

On the final topic, the Globe spent several days asking Brown’s campaign whether the senator took advantage of a component of the Obama health care law to keep his adult daughter on his congressional insurance plan.

The campaign declined to answer.

Yet last Monday, when a reporter approached Brown and asked him to run through his views on the law, he acknowledged that he kept his daughter Ayla on his plan. He also was unapologetic about it.


That revelation came nearly two years after Brown vowed to repeal the law, but the senator said he has consistently favored taking popular elements of it and incorporating them into Massachusetts law.

Glow of half-court shot lingers for senator

It turns out Scott Brown’s campaign staffers weren’t the only ones impressed by his recent half-court basketball shot.

His communications director, Colin Reed, urged Brown himself to talk about it two days after he sunk the basket during a visit to a Cape Cod community center.

The senator and his wife, former Boston TV reporter Gail Huff, were happy to oblige.

“Yeah, it’s unbelievable. It’s viral,’’ Brown told the Globe’s Eric Moskowitz.

Huff added: “He said, ‘How many kids here think I could make a half-court shot?’ Half the kids put their hands up. ‘How many people think I can’t?’ Half the kids put their hands up. And he made it. Which, of course, he does all the time, right honey?’’

Brown replied, with a hint of sarcasm: “Right.’’

A short time later, Brown went to fetch his iPad.

“Here, check this out,’’ the senator said.

As the reporter read aloud the headline over the video on YouTube - “Scott Brown’s Amazing Half-Court Shot’’ - Huff replied: “Is that what it says? Oh God. . . . The kids went wild. It was so cute.’’

Brown said: “It went on for like 10 minutes. These kids were just like stomping and trampling over each other. It was the funniest thing in the world.’’

When Moskowitz asked Brown if he practiced the shot, the senator replied: “No.’’

Then, in jest, he added: “Yeah, yeah, I go out there every day. In between saving the world, I go out and . . . ’’

Huff interrupted with laughter before her husband continued by highlighting the media coverage of his shot.

“Look at this: Fox, WHDH, WBZ, ’CVB, Washington Examiner, Boston Herald. It’s so funny,’’ he said.

A Brown staffer later revealed the senator made the shot not randomly, but on his fifth attempt.

Glen Johnson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.