WaPo: Warren misled voters over previous consultancy work

Did Elizabeth Warren mislead voters about her outside income while at Harvard? Her campaign finally released more information about Warren’s work with corporations on bankruptcy actions over the past 25 years while she worked as a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania and at Harvard. The income totaled more than $2 million, the Washington Post reports, and the descriptions of that work don’t quite match up with Warren’s earlier claims either:

Her work for some of the companies doesn’t fit neatly with her current presidential campaign brand as a crusader against corporate interests.

For instance, the documents released Sunday show that Warren made about $80,000 from work she did for creditors in the energy company Enron’s bankruptcy and $20,000 as a consultant for Dow Chemical, a company that was trying to limit the liability it faced from silicone breast implants that were made by a connected firm.

Earlier this year, Warren had released a list of about 50 cases that she worked on, but the descriptions of the work were at times misleading and the amount of income and dates for her work were not included.

While the cases released by Warren’s campaign stretch over more than three decades, the figures disclosed Sunday show that nearly all of the money was made from cases filed after she got her job at Harvard in 1995.

The timing of the release, on a Sunday, suggests that the Warren campaign was at the least not enthusiastic about getting the information out in the open. It came just hours after Warren excoriated Pete Buttigieg for not releasing the names of his clients while working as a consultant for McKinsey & Co, continuing a feud between the two leading Not Bidens of the 2020 Democratic primary. The feud began last week as both tried to jockey for position in the race to overcome Joe Biden:

The volleys began in Boston on Thursday night, when Warren criticized Buttigieg for not disclosing the names of his campaign’s top fundraisers since April, or opening his fundraisers to the media, which former Vice President Joe Biden has done.

“The mayor should be releasing who’s on his finance committee, who are the bundlers who are raising big money for him, who he’s given titles to and made promises to,” Warren said, a rare instance of her directly attacking a Democratic opponent other than Mike Bloomberg by name. Buttigieg, she added, should also “open up the doors so that the press can follow the promises he’s making in these big-dollar fundraisers.”

Buttigieg senior adviser Lis Smith fired back on Twitter, calling Warren a “corporate lawyer” and saying she should open “up the doors to the decades of tax returns she’s hiding.” Warren hasn’t released her tax returns from before 2008, when she had corporate clients while she also taught at Harvard Law School. She disclosed the names of those clients earlier this year but has not released her tax returns from that time, arguing that the decade of tax returns she already released is sufficient.

Without naming Buttigieg explicitly, Warren yesterday slammed other candidates “who have decided to finance their campaigns by doing closed-door fundraisers, sucking up to the corporate executives, the millionaires, the billionaires,” but she demanded earlier in the week that Mayor Pete release the names of his clients. Buttigieg claims that his non-disclosure agreement with McKinsey forbids him from naming his clients, but he also insists that he did no work that was not “consistent with my values.”

After making that attack, Warren’s team probably realized they had little choice but to comply with their own definition of accountability. It turns out that Warren herself had made money off of some millionaires and billionaires, too. Besides Enron and Dow (where she worked on a bankruptcy settlement on behalf of women who had won a silicone-breast implant judgment), Warren also worked on behalf of former Getty Oil executives in the Texaco bankruptcy, which is practically a trifecta of progressive sins these days.

The New York Times also revisits other controversial Warren clients in its report, as it did in October:

While some of Ms. Warren’s work has been controversial — such as her decision to advocate for LTV Steel in a case challenging a requirement that it pay into a fund for coal miners — the information released on Sunday by Ms. Warren reveals that much of her most lucrative work involved relatively mundane cases that did not make headlines. …

Among her corporate clients were Travelers insurance and the aircraft maker Fairchild, as well as one of America’s wealthiest families, the Hunts of Texas. She advocated for a railroad company that wanted to avoid paying for a Superfund cleanup, and advised Dow Chemical as its subsidiary Dow Corning dealt with thousands of complaints from women who said they had been harmed by its silicone breast implants.

She was helping a steel company stiff its workers and tried to get a Superfund polluter off the hook? Yes, that should make Warren look very progressive indeed. Of course, it’s dangerous to blame lawyers for representing clients, as everyone has a right to effective legal counsel in court. However, Warren was only moonlighting as an attorney and consultant; her day job was teaching law at Penn and Harvard. She could have easily turned down these offers for work in civil cases. Even the NYT sounds skeptical of Warren’s claims that she took the cases to protect the bankruptcy process:

An analysis of her legal work suggested that she took on some of the cases as an effort to preserve the integrity of the bankruptcy system and, in others, she was merely advocating on behalf of clients.

There is more and more good reason to be skeptical of every claim Warren makes. This belated disclosure, after picking a fight with Buttigieg over consulting work, makes it look as though Warren has other problems other than a lack of honesty, which the NYT and Washington Post are beginning to notice. There seems to be trouble with projection and hypocrisy as well.