Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) has apologized after accusing his opponent Elizabeth Warren of paying actors to appear in advertisements as victims of asbestos-related illnesses.
The Taunton Gazettte reported that a firefighter asked Brown at an event Wednesday morning how Warren gets victims of asbestos to appear in her advertisements. "A lot of them are paid," Brown said. We hear that maybe they pay actors. Listen, you can get surrogates and go out and say your thing. We have regular people in our commercials. No one is paid. They are regular folks that reach out to us and say she is full of it."
Elizabeth Warren fired back at the accusations in a tweet Wednesday evening:
— Elizabeth Warren (@elizabethforma) October 17, 2012
Scott Brown's apology came later that night in a statement:
"It was wrong for me to have jumped to those conclusions and I apologize to those I offended."
The Elizabeth Warren advertisement the candidates were referring to features people that have been personally affected by asbestos, a mineral that can cause mesothelioma and lung cancer with exposure. Those in the advertisement are shown expressing their gratitude to Warren for her work to help them.
Elizabeth Warren's work with Travelers Insurance from 2008 to 2010 is now the focus point of the Senatorial election in Massachusetts, one of the most high stakes races in the United States.
In an advertisement, and in recent debates, Sen. Brown has attacked Warren's work saying she has "not been telling the truth about her career."
The above advertisement shows an article from the Boston Globe with the headline, "Elizabeth Warren was key in asbestos case." Brown's campaign uses this headline against Warren in trying to shine a negative light on her involvement with the asbestos case.
Although this headline was published, the advertisement fails to show the other text written directly under the headline. "Worked for insurer on fund for victims," the text reads.
Travelers Insurance, the company Warren worked for "on fund for victims," covered Johns-Manville Corporation. Manville was once the largest manufacturer of asbestos.
In 1989, Manville went bankrupt. A trust was set up that, before Warren was on the scene, "paid out more than $3.2 billion to over 600,000 claimants," according to a Supreme Court document.
Warren was brought on by Travelers Insurance in April 2008 to work on the case of Travelers v. Bailey, meaning she was working for a big insurance company.
But, Travelers Insurance was working towards a goal along with the victims: To establish a $500 million trust that would benefit current and future victims and their families.
The benefit Travelers Insurance would get was immunity from any other asbestos cases relating to Manville.
Here's what was written in the same article Brown's advertisement references on Warren's work with Travelers:
"Travelers won most of what it wanted from the Supreme Court, and in doing so Warren helped preserve an element of bankruptcy law that ensured that victims of large-scale corporate malfeasance would have a better chance of getting compensated, even when the responsible companies go bankrupt."
Eventually, through a drawn out legal process, a trust was not set up and Travelers Insurance was awarded immunity from any more asbestos-related cases from their former client, Manville.
The falling apart of the case happened after Warren stopped working for Travelers in 2010.
Travelers paid Warren $212,000 for her work, according to financial documents.
This particular issue centering on Warren's involvement with the asbestos case is receiving large amounts of media attention for Brown's comments and subsequent apology with less than three weeks before the election.
With Warren stacking up $36.3 million and Brown bringing in $27.45 million (and $7 million from his previous election), the Massachusetts senate election will most likely become the most expensive ever with a total of $70 million in funds.
Sen. Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren will debate for a fourth and final time on October 30th, just one week before election. The race is far from over.