WINCHESTER — Senator Scott Brown attacked Elizabeth Warren’s legal work again Wednesday, casting her as a hired gun for corporations, but he offered no evidence that proved his latest assertion that she was working against the interest of victims.
Brown seized on a report in Wednesday’s Globe, citing Warren’s work as a consultant to Dow Chemical in the early days of the bankruptcy of Dow Corning, a related company. Dow Corning declared bankruptcy in 1995 under financial pressure from 19,000 lawsuits related to its silicone breast implants, which more than 200,000 women said had caused health problems.
Warren had declined Tuesday to specify what she did for the company, saying she was bound by attorney-client privilege. But Wednesday she suggested during a press conference that she had advised the company in setting up a trust, which eventually required the firm to establish a fund to pay out $2.3 billion to victims. The 240,000 claimants were expected to receive between $2,000 and $250,000 each, according to a 2004 Houston Chronicle article provided by the Warren campaign. The campaign would not say how much Warren was paid for her work.
Brown has said that Warren was seeking to win immunity from lawsuits for the company, but the settlement did not give the company immunity. Plaintiffs were not required to enter into the settlement but faced poor odds in court because judges had begun casting doubt on the scientific link between the implants and health problems, the Chronicle reported.
Brown said at an earlier news conference in Winchester that Warren was working “in an effort to limit the liability once again for women who had breast implants and were seeking compensation for the faulty breast implants.” He made the comments as part of his assertion that Warren was working “not for the victims, as she’s said, but for the large corporations as a hired gun.”
When asked to back up his assertions about the nature of her work for Dow Chemical, Brown offered none. He repeated that “they talked to her because they wanted to get her advice as to how to limit liability and get immunity from any bankruptcy claims.”
“She’s a bankruptcy expert,’’ he said. “To think otherwise is really not accurate.”
The Brown campaign late Wednesday released a memo that included news clips about Dow Chemical to imply that Warren must have been part of the company’s effort to avoid liability in the implants case. But it had no proof of what exactly her role was, and the Warren campaign pointed to news clips showing the companies were interrelated and that both ultimately contributed to a settlement fund for victims.
Warren said Brown was attacking her to distract from the issues and his voting record.
“I have been a teacher and a consumer advocate for all of my career, and I have been out there fighting to help protect people who have been run over by big corporations and by banks,” she said. “I was a consultant. They set up a trust to pay the women who had been injured, to make sure that women who knew about their injuries immediately would be paid, and those who learned about their injuries in the future would be paid.”
Warren did not initially disclose her work for Dow Chemical to the press. It was revealed in a 2002 affidavit posted on a conservative blog.
Brown also suggested Wednesday that Warren is improperly practicing law without admittance to the Massachusetts Bar. Until Wednesday, Brown had not addressed that topic directly.
Brown said Warren is “purporting to do that [work] quite frankly without a law license, something I know that quite frankly should be looked into.”
Warren is a member of the Supreme Court Bar, and until this year was also a member of the New Jersey Bar. She allowed that membership to lapse, her campaign says, because she did not have time to meet continuing education requirements.
Warren said Wednesday that she has primarily been a professor and “from time to time, I have taken on cases” and followed the rules of court in doing so.
“Senator Brown is simply wrong,” she said.
Several experts in the field of legal ethical issues say that, from all that has surfaced about her legal work, Warren was not required to be licensed to practice in Massachusetts. They say that Warren would have to get a law license only if she were to set up an office, solicit clients, and practice in the Massachusetts legal system.
“I don’t think anything that has been described to me about what she has been doing constitutes the unauthorized practice of law in Massachusetts as defined by the Massachusetts rules of professional conduct,’’ said Michael A. Fredrickson, the general counsel to the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers.