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Warren seeks to refocus campaign on Wall St.

Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren urges stronger financial regulation.

Elizabeth Warren is seizing on a $2 billion trading loss at JPMorgan Chase to try to refocus her battle for Scott Brown’s Senate seat away from questions about her ethnic heritage and toward more comfortable territory: recklessness in the financial sector.

In a flurry of national media appearances Monday, Warren called on Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, to resign from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s board of directors, saying he needs to be held accountable for the bank’s risky gambles.

Warren also sent out a fund-raising appeal that called on Congress to pass a new Glass-Steagall Act to separate high-risk investment banks from traditional banking institutions, protecting consumers from sudden investment losses. The law, passed after the 1929 stock market crash, was repealed in 1999.

After two weeks on the defensive over her Native American heritage controversy, Warren, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has jumped on the opportunity presented by the JPMorgan losses to return to her central campaign theme, that she will be a fighter for middle-class families, willing to stand up to Wall Street.

“It works right into her argument that financial institutions are insufficiently regulated,’’ said Bruce I. Oppenheimer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University. “When a horror story happens, she becomes the spokesperson out there, and so she gets visibility and a lot of free coverage, and her side of the argument gets a boost.’’

A former consumer regulatory adviser to President Obama, Warren has used the bank’s risky trading practices to reinsert herself into the national debate over high-stakes bets in the financial industry and its fight against tougher regulations.

On Monday, she appeared on CNN and the CBS morning show, among other outlets, repeating her call for Dimon to step down from the Federal Reserve board and accusing Brown of protecting Wall Street’s interests.

“Middle-class families, working families are getting hammered, and Wall Street wants to change the subject,’’ she said on CNN. “Scott Brown wants to change the subject. Washington wants to change the subject. I think that’s the real problem here.’’

In a conference call with reporters, the chairman of the Massachusetts Democratic Party, John Walsh, said Brown must reveal who sits on his New York City Finance Committee, an entity that hosted a reception for Brown on March 12.

Walsh also pointed to a Globe analysis of Brown’s fund-raising figures that indicated that the Massachusetts Republican received more itemized donations from New York than from any other US city in the first three months of the year.

“Massachusetts families deserve to know if Scott Brown stands with them or with Wall Street,’’ Walsh said.

Brown’s campaign held a conference call with reporters at the same time as Walsh’s call, to discuss the controversy surrounding Warren’s Native American heritage.

During that call, Jim Barnett, Brown’s campaign manager, said Brown would not disclose the members of his New York Finance Committee.

“It is entirely typical for campaigns, including the Warren campaign, I’m sure, to establish folks to help them with their fund-raising in the form of host committees,’’ Barnett said. “This is entirely typical, and Scott Brown follows all the disclosure rules that are required.’’

Colin Reed, a Brown spokesman, said the only host of the New York fund-raiser was Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge fund manager who has donated to Republicans and Democrats, including Obama.

Brown’s campaign did not take a position on Warren’s call for Dimon to resign from the Federal Reserve board. “I have not had that conversation with Senator Brown but, clearly, people need to be held accountable,’’ Barnett said.

He called the focus on Brown’s fund-raising an attempt to distract from questions the senator’s campaign is raising about Warren’s Native American ancestry.

Brown’s campaign wants Warren to release her employment records from Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania, which could shed light on whether she claimed minority status while applying for jobs at those universities. Warren had listed herself as Native American in a law school directory from 1986 through 1995 and was billed as a minority faculty member by both schools. Warren responded by releasing statements from deans at each of the law schools where she has taught who say ancestry was not a factor in her hiring.

Michael Levenson can be reached at mlevenson@globe.com.
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