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Democrat Warren targets US Senate GOP rival Brown

By Steve LeBlanc
Associated Press / July 17, 2012
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BOSTON—Democratic Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren took aim at her opponent Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown and former Gov. Mitt Romney during a forum Tuesday at the John F. Kennedy library in Boston.

The Harvard Law School professor also said she supports raising taxes on oil companies and would allow Bush-era tax cuts to expire for the nation's wealthiest individuals.

Warren, who appeared alone at the forum, criticized Romney for pledging to roll back what she said were key financial reforms that she helped push for and that were signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2010 -- a move that she said could once again threaten the fiscal stability of middle-class families.

"The alternative vision is to say no, we need to have some rules," she said.

Warren also faulted Brown for joining with other Republicans on Monday to block debate on a Democratic-backed bill that would require organizations that pour millions of dollars into campaign ads to disclose top donors and the amounts they spend.

Warren said that by opposing the so-called Disclose Act, Brown helped those deep-pocketed groups operate away from public scrutiny.

"My Republican opponent and every other Republican filibustered so that the people who are pumping money into these independent groups can remain secret and can remain in the shadows, can remain behind the curtain," Warren said.

Brown said he blocked the bill in part because it would favor labor unions over business groups.

"The Disclose Act is sold as a bill to promote fairness and transparency, but it was designed to exempt some of the most powerful special interests," Brown said in a written statement. "Clearly, this was not a good faith effort to enact campaign finance reform."

Brown also pointed to the agreement he signed with Warren in the Massachusetts Senate race designed to discourage third party groups from running television, radio and Internet ads in the campaign, as a model for other races.

"I'm proud to have set a much higher standard on curbing outside money," he said.

During the hour-long discussion, Warren delivered a stump speech that focused on her efforts to push for passage of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Asked if she would support any tax increases, Warren said she would back higher taxes for oil companies and would let tax hikes for the highest earning Americans expire.

"We don't have the money to be subsidizing the largest and the wealthiest corporations in America," she said.

Brown has faulted Warren's support for any tax increases as the nation tries to regain its economic footing.

The library said it has extended an invitation to Brown to appear in a separate forum with a similar format. Brown appeared at the library last year after his book was published.

Brown last month declined an invitation to a debate sponsored by the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the U.S. Senate and the University of Massachusetts-Boston. Brown had sought a promise from Kennedy's widow, Victoria Kennedy, that she would not make an endorsement in the Senate race, a request the debate sponsors called "inappropriate."

Also Tuesday, Brown's campaign again demanded Warren authorize the release of her personnel records from Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania.

Brown has said Warren benefited from claiming Native American heritage without any evidence that she has such heritage.

Warren's campaign has offered quotes from officials at the schools saying they were either unaware of those claims or they had no influence on their decision to hire her.

Brown and Warren are locked in one of the tightest and most expensive Senate races in the country.

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