December 1, 2020

Elizabeth Warren says she earned $1.9M from legal work spanning 3 decades

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) may style herself a champion of the working class, but she made almost $2 million defending big corporations.

The 2020 presidential candidate owned up to the apparent branding contradiction in a press release, admitting that she made $1.9 million working as a bankruptcy lawyer starting in the 1980s, Fox News reported. The press release comes as Warren battles South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg —  former McKinsey consultant and a rising challenger for their party’s nomination — over which candidate is more in touch with working people.

Earnings detailed

Warren had previously listed in a May press release the names of some 56 companies for which she had performed work of one form or another, but it wasn’t until this weekend that the candidate fleshed out the details with dollar amounts. Some of the work was pro bono, according to the Warren campaign, but Warren still made hundreds of thousands of dollars representing numerous corporate clients.

In legal work dating from 1985 to 2009, Warren worked as a lawyer, consultant or expert witness for various clients. In five of those cases the campaign could not find records on compensation, ABC notes, but the income for individual cases ranged from $10,000 to $212,000.

The release comes amid a feud between Warren and Buttigieg over transparency. Warren has attacked Buttigieg’s work for the elite consultancy firm McKinsey and accused him of cozying up to corporate donors at closed fundraisers, CBS notes.

Buttigieg has hit back, challenging Warren to be more transparent about her corporate legal work and release her tax returns predating 2008. A spokeswoman for Warren made it clear that the release was a direct response to Buttigieg.

“If Democrats are going to defeat Donald Trump, or whoever the Republican Party might replace him with, we must nominate a candidate who can create the most robust possible contrast against Republicans on conflicts of interest and corruption issues,” communications director Kristen Orthman said. “Elizabeth does not sell access to her time — no closed-door big-dollar fundraisers, no bundling program, no perks or promises to any wealthy donor.”

Phony transparency battle

Warren has released the past 11 years of her tax returns, but the new documents itemize her earnings, her campaign noted. She has refused to release any tax returns dating prior to 2008.

The press release puts a working-class hero spin on Warren’s work for major corporations, describing her advocacy in terms of her socialist brand. For example, Warren describes her consultancy work for Dow Chemical as having helped “compensate women claiming injury from Dow Corning’s silicone breast implants,” a description that critics say is misleading.

In fact, Warren was working to limit the corporation’s liability in a class-action lawsuit. The consumer advocate and trustee of the women in the lawsuit told ABC in October that Warren helped delay payment to plaintiffs for years.

The Democrat also represented a company that bought Fairchild Aircraft, a company that went bankrupt after a fatal plane crash that killed four people. Warren sought to argue that the new company should not be liable for the defects of Fairchild’s planes, since the company was bankrupt; her campaign described this work as trying to “protect hundreds of jobs at the company after new investors had saved it from closing its doors and laying off its workers…[in] the end, the company survived and 1,000 people had jobs because of it.”

But it appears that Warren’s conflict with Buttigieg may have little depth below the surface, as both candidates have significant ties to big corporations, despite their claimed progressive bona fides.

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