Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren struck back at former Bush White House senior adviser Karl Rove Thursday, after an ad by the Rove-linked group Crossroads GPS attacked her for overseeing "bailouts that helped pay big bonuses for bank executives while middle-class Americans lost out."
"Congress had Warren oversee how your tax dollars were spent, bailing out the same banks that helped cause the financial meltdown, bailouts that helped pay big bonuses to bank executives while middle-class Americans lost out" says the narrator in the ad, referring to her position as chair of the congressional oversight panel on the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
Crossroads GPS attacked Warren, a professor at Harvard Law School who has long advocated for financial reforms, last month for being too close to the Occupy Wall Street movement, directly contradicting the group's most recent ad suggesting that she is too close to Wall Street.
"I can't find the right words to describe how wrong that is. Factually wrong and morally wrong," said Warren of the ad to the Boston Herald. "Karl Rove is not telling the truth, and I think anyone who is not telling the truth shouldn't be running ads in this race," she continued.
"Karl Rove was part of the inner circle when President Bush pushed for TARP bailouts," she added. "Now he's using Wall Street money to attack me for being too cozy with Wall Street? I was calling out Wall Street over the TARP bill from the beginning."
Warren also appeared on MSNBC's "The Last Word" Thursday night and was asked about the ad. "I knew that Wall Street was going to come after me with everything they had. They want to make sure I'm not the next senator from Massachusetts. But it seems like the strategy now is the kitchen sink strategy. You know, throw anything you can at her and let's see what happens," she said.
Warren's panel wrote scathing reports about how the Treasury Department implemented the program. One report hit the Treasury Department for taking "no steps to use any of [the $700 billion rescue package] to alleviate the foreclosure crisis," and that "raises questions about whether Treasury has complied with Congress' intent that Treasury develop a 'plan that seeks to maximize assistance for homeowners,'" according to ABC News.
She criticized bank bonuses in March 2010: "I do not understand how it is that financial institutions could think that they could take taxpayer money and then turn around and act like it's business as usual," she said. "I don't understand how they can't see that the world has changed in a fundamental way, that it is not business as usual when you take taxpayer dollars."
A poll released Wednesday by UMass Lowell and the Herald found Warren leading Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) by a 49-42 margin. The survey suggested that early advertising both by Crossroads and the Warren campaign has mostly helped her -- her name identification has gone up, while Brown's approval rating fell from 53 to 45 percent.
UPDATE: Crossroads GPS responded to Warren in a statement Friday. "Professor Warren's response shows how asleep at the switch she was when the Democrat-led Congress passed the Wall Street bailouts in 2008 and 2009 and put her in charge of overseeing them - more than a year after Karl Rove had left the White House," said Steven Law, president and CEO of Crossroads GPS.
Read more about Warren's career in the slideshow below:
Elizabeth Warren announced a bill creating a Financial Product Safety Commission with House and Senate Democrats in March 2009. The body was designed to have oversight over mortgages and other financial instruments to protect consumers against predatory practices. She said if the agency had existed before the subprime collapse then "there would have been millions of families who got tangled in predatory mortgages who never would have gotten them." HuffPost's Ryan Grim reported: Without all these toxic assets on banks' balance sheets, the institutions wouldn't be on the brink of collapse and the recession would be more manageable. "Consumer financial products were the front end of the destabilization of the American economic system." Sen. Charles Schumer's cosponsorship of the bill is notable because of his proximity to Wall Street. The bill's merit, the New York Democrat said, is that it regulates the actual financial product rather than the company producing it.
Tim Geithner expressed opposition to her nomination for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, reported HuffPost's Shahien Nasiripour. Geithner thought Warren's views on the big banks and Wall St. were too tough. Warren's oversight of the Treasury department as a watchdog for TARP apparently irked Geithner, agressively questioning him during Congressional hearings: While her grilling of Geithner in September, over what members of Congress have called the "backdoor bailout" of Wall Street through AIG, inspired the "squirm" video, just last month Warren pressed Geithner on the administration's lackluster foreclosure-prevention plan, Making Home Affordable. Criticizing him for Treasury's failure to keep families in their homes, she questioned Treasury's commitment to homeowners.
Elizabeth Warren reiterated her desire for a strong Consumer Financial Protection Agency to HuffPost's Shahien Nasiripour: "My first choice is a strong consumer agency," the Harvard Law professor and federal bailout watchdog said in an interview with the Huffington Post. "My second choice is no agency at all and plenty of blood and teeth left on the floor."
In September of 2010, HuffPost's Ryan Grim reported that Elizabeth Warren was being considered as a candidate for interim director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Days later the announcement was official. The move allowed Warren to set up the groundwork for the agency immediately without risking a GOP filibuster of her nomination, a response that seemed certain giving the public opposition expressed by some Republican senators. When it came time to put forth an appointment for a longterm CFPB chief, Warren was overlooked, partially because she was seen as unfeasible, but also, HuffPost's Shahien Nasiripour reported, because she was a divisive figure within the Obama administration: Ultimately, Warren wanted the job, allies said. And near-united opposition from Senate Republicans -- 44 of them signed a letter saying they'd oppose any nominee -- should have made it easier for Obama to nominate her, since the Republicans publicly said they wouldn't support anyone for the role. Instead, the Republicans made it easy for the White House to deflect questions about the administration's lack of support for Warren. Asked how she squared the administration's public statements with its private ones, Warren declined. "I really have to say, I'm just not there. I'm not in the intricacies of the political part of this, and I can't comment," Warren said Monday. "The truth is I don't know anything about it."
In October 2010, shortly after being tasked with building the groundwork for the CFPB, Warren stopped by HuffPost to chat with Ryan Grim and Shahien Nasiripour "This is the first real agency we've built in the 21st century -- well, there's Homeland Security, but one for the people. And it means we ought to think differently," said Warren. "The government can talk to people and people can talk to the government differently than when the Consumer Product Safety Commission was built, or when the FDA was built. And if we do this right, that should change the whole dynamic of who this agency really is." HuffPost's Ryan Grim reported: By gathering information, contracts and documents from homeowners and consumers, and allowing watchdog groups and individual concerned citizens access to those documents, the agency can exponentially expand the manpower it has to review the operations of banks and lenders. The goal would be to become aware of a particularly fraudulent practice before it is rampant and insulates itself in the financial services industry. For full video of the interview, click here.
In May, Warren was called to testify before a House subcommittee and defend the merits of the CFPB. Some of the questions submitted by Republican representatives appeared confused and at times aggressive, leaving Warren to correct them on some basic facts about the actual purpose of the bureau. HuffPost's Mike McCauliff relays one particularly contentious moment: The subcommittee chairman, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), began the proceedings by suggesting Warren had lied to the committee in a previous hearing that had questioned the CFPB's role in offering advice to state attorneys general negotiating a settlement with abusive mortgage servicers. At the time, Warren said she was proud her agency had been able to help, at the request of the treasury secretary. But McHenry brought up the memo again, suggesting it showed that she hid a larger role in the negotiations from Congress. "This is our job, and we're trying to do our job, to be helpful to other agencies, and to help those agencies to hold those who break the law accountable," Warren said, repeating that she was proud of the work.
Elizabeth Warren announced on September 14, 2011 that she was running for the United States Senate seat currently held by Scott Brown (R-Mass.) "After listening to people all across our state who know that we can do better, folks who are frustrated like I am that Washington just doesn't get it, I'm running for the Senate so I can fight every day for Massachusetts families," Warren wrote on The Huffington Post.
One month into her campaign to secure the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Scott Brown in Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren raised $3.15 million, largely from small donations. According to a campaign email, 96 percent of donations were under $100. "These are pretty amazing numbers for our first official finance report, raised in a very short period of time," she said in an email to supporters. Warren's campaign has also attracted large liberal donors, including colleagues from Harvard and well-known liberal donors like George Soros, Barbra Streisand, and DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Warren raised an impressive $5.7 million in the fourth quarter of 2011. In early January, the candidate's money bomb pulled in more than $100,000 in just one weekend.
Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) signed a pledge to curb third-party attack ads. If either campaign breaks the agreement, they would donate half the cost of the outside ad to a charity of their opponent's choice. "This may not work," Warren said in an email to supporters. "But there's enough at stake to make it worthwhile to try to take back this election."