Sen. Elizabeth Warren has talked often about her time spent as a practicing attorney, during and after her tenure as a professor at Harvard Law School. But documents, released by her campaign on Sunday, tell a slightly different story about her private sector work than the one Warren has made a hallmark staple of her biography — and it’s one that might make Warren’s supporters, particularly those who respond to her anti-corporate rhetoric, think twice.
The Warren campaign spent last week attacking their main challenger for the Iowa primary, South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, demanding Buttigieg a financial report and a list of companies he did work for as a consultant. Warren, who claims to have eschewed fundraising from corporations, super PACs, and big money donors, also attacked Buttigieg on his private fundraisers, according to the Huffington Post, demanding that he reveal who is “influencing” his (suddenly very popular) campaign.
“I think that Mayor Pete should open up the doors so that anyone can come in and report on what’s being said,” Warren said last week. “Those doors shouldn’t be closed and no one should be left to wonder what kind of promises are being made to the people that then pony up big bucks to be in the room.”
In return, Buttigieg’s campaign demanded that Warren release her tax returns and an accounting of the money she made as a corporate lawyer — an accounting that included a list of clients, so that Warren supporters could see whether her distrust of big business is thorough.
At first, Warren demurred, citing the privacy of tax documents, but on Sunday, amid a cyclone of news about the impeachment hearings, Warren dropped what her campaign claims is a complete list of her corporate clients as well as how much she earned from those she represented as a practicing attorney.
As the Washington Post notes, Warren’s document dump reveals yet another fib: she claimed, at one point, that she worked on legal matters while serving as a professor, greatly limiting her contributions to ongoing litigation, and capping what she could receive. She also claimed, back in May, that she helped on specific cases, where downtrodden clients were seeking restitution from the big, bad corporations that had hurt them.
But, it turns out, much of the work Warren did came after her tenure at Harvard, and she earned around $2 million serving as a consultant or assistant litigator on some very profitable cases. “Her work for some of the companies doesn’t fit neatly with her current presidential campaign brand as a crusader against corporate interests,” the Washington Post retorts.
“In total, Warren’s campaign disclosed income from 42 cases, with the most money coming from a 2009 Travelers Insurance case concerning victims of asbestos poisoning,” Politico reports, digesting the documents. “Warren says she earned $212,335. The next highest compensation came as counsel to department store Bergner’s in the 1990s, from which she earned $186,859.59. There are five cases that the Warren campaign says it does not have compensation records for, including consulting for the former directors of Getty Oil in the late 1980s during a bankruptcy filing by Texaco.”
It is important to note that Warren also represented her “villianous” corporations, serving as a consultant to Dow Chemical when it was looking to avoid liability over leaky breast implants and, often, her downtrodden clients were other corporations, like those creditors seeking to recover money from the bankrupt-and-charged Enron.
As for her work as an attorney fighting corporations, she mainly worked on mass torts cases — class action lawsuits — which benefit the legal team working on them far more than they benefit the victims.
But Warren is also self-reporting. It’s difficult to know if this is a comprehensive list of Warren’s clients or whether it’s edited for content. The campaign says the roster is gleanded “public records, Elizabeth’s personal records, and other sources” but neither the Washington Post nor Politico was able to independently verify Warren’s claims.