Scott Brown hammers Elizabeth Warren over voter registration efforts

Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brownn.
CBS/Getty Images
Elizabeth Warren and Sen. Scott Brown, who are running in Massachusetts' closely watched U.S. Senate race.
CBS/Getty Images

(CBS News) In an ongoing series of attacks deemed "bizarre" by Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren's campaign, Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., is continuing to hammer Warren over an outside group's efforts to register welfare recipients in Massachusetts, contending that the registration efforts were meant to boost Warren's candidacy and calling for her to reimburse taxpayers for their cost.

"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," said Brown Friday in a statement. "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."

The mass registration mailings, which target welfare recipients in the state, are the result of a series of lawsuits brought by Demos, a liberal advocacy group, which argued that Massachusetts was not actively offering welfare recipients the opportunity to register, per requirements under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

Amelia Warren Tyagi, Warren's daughter, is Demos' board chair, though the group says she was not involved in the decision to bring the voter registration lawsuit against the Massachusetts government, according to the Boston Globe.

"Let's be very clear - Republican Scott Brown's baseless attack on Elizabeth's daughter is ridiculous," Warren campaign manager Mindy Myers said in a statement. "His entire attack is built on efforts in multiple states to enforce a law passed almost twenty years ago with bipartisan support. Even the Bush Justice Department filed suit to enforce this provision of that law. For Brown to claim this is some kind of plot against him is just bizarre."

Demos has filed similar suits in a number of other states, and says the Massachusetts effort is part of a national campaign to enforce voter regulation laws.

"It would be irresponsible of us, from my perspective, to avoid Massachusetts simply because a family member of a board member was running for office when we saw the problems," Lisa J. Danetz, a senior counsel at Demos, told the Globe.

Brown, who has supported voter ID laws, charges that the drive is an "outrageous" use of taxpayer money and one driven by political motivations.

"I want every legal vote to count, but it's outrageous to use taxpayer dollars to register welfare recipients as part of a special effort to boost one political party over another," he said. "This effort to sign up welfare recipients is being aided by Elizabeth Warren's daughter and it's clearly designed to benefit her mother's political campaign. It means that I'm going to have to work that much harder to get out my pro-jobs, pro-free enterprise message."

Warren's campaign is calling that charge "bizarre," and suggests that Brown's targeting the candidate's daughter is inappropriate.

"For Brown to claim this is some kind of plot against him is just bizarre. Elizabeth is very proud of her daughter and she will keep fighting for middle class families across Massachusetts," said Myers. "Scott Brown cannot continue ignoring the facts of this case or misleading the people of Massachusetts to convince them to ignore the facts."