Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) demanded Friday that his rival, Elizabeth Warren, pay the state of Massachusetts $276,000 for voter registration forms sent to welfare recipients.
Brown's campaign has claimed that the measure is part of a coordinated effort to boost turnout for her campaign. Warren's daughter chairs the group, Demos, that filed a lawsuit along with other groups spurring Massachusetts to comply with "Motor Voter" laws that require states to encourage people to register to vote when visiting social service offices. Demos has sued several states in addition to Massachusetts.
But work on the lawsuit started in early 2011 -- far before Warren ever got into the race, and the group has been filing suits since 2004. The state agreed in a court settlement to contact 477,944 welfare recipients at a cost of $275,844.
"It’s been disturbing for a lot of people to learn that the state’s welfare department undertook an unprecedented voter registration drive at the behest of Elizabeth Warren’s daughter and the organization she represents," Brown said in a statement. "It is clear that this was done to aid Elizabeth Warren’s Senate campaign. Professor Warren has more than $13 million dollars in her campaign account, and if she wants to mail every welfare recipient a voter registration form, she should do so at her own expense, not taxpayers’. She should immediately reimburse the state for the cost of this mailing and stop playing politics with the taxpayers’ money."
Elizabeth Warren's campaign said the charge was "dead wrong."
"Scott Brown cannot continue ignoring the facts of this case or misleading the people of Massachusetts to convince them to ignore the facts. This is just a ridiculous political stunt. It’s not about Scott Brown," campaign manager Mindy Myers said in a statement. "It’s not about Elizabeth Warren. And it’s certainly not about anyone’s daughter. And as a father, he ought to think about that. This is about enforcing a bipartisan law passed almost 20 years ago and enforced by presidents of both political parties."
The state's welfare commissioner said the claim was absurd. "This gets to the ridiculous," said state welfare commissioner Daniel Curley. "There has been no communication from DTA to any of those officials -- or their daughters."
Another Massachusetts Republican, presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, also took this week to attack his Democratic opponent on welfare. Brown and Romney are both advised by Massachusetts GOP consultant Eric Fehrnstrom.