Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) called on Democrat Elizabeth Warren to release her law school applications and faculty personnel files on Tuesday, escalating a controversy over her claim to Native American heritage and whether she used that claim to boost her career.
"Serious questions have been raised about the legitimacy of Elizabeth Warren's claims to Native American ancestry and whether it was appropriate for her to assume minority status as a college professor," Brown said Tuesday in a statement.
Warren's campaign said it was preparing a response to Brown's request.
Warren and her aides have stumbled during their attempts to mitigate the damage from an issue that at first seemed minor but has dominated news coverage of the Senate race in Massachusetts in recent weeks.
A consumer advocate and Oklahoma native, Warren explained that being Native American is part of her family lore, and that she never exploited those ties to try to gain an advantage. A genealogist found Warren might have had a great-great-great-grandmother who was Cherokee.
Warren said she had listed herself in faculty directories as a minority professor in hopes of meeting others with similar backgrounds. She later cited her grandfather's high cheekbones as a reason her family believed she had Native American heritage.
"Her changing stories, contradictions and refusal to answer legitimate questions have cast doubt on her credibility and called into question the diversity practices at Harvard," Brown said.
Brown has mostly steered clear of inserting himself directly into the dispute, although his campaign has called on Warren to apologize and said the issue raises questions about her credibility.
Warren's campaign alleged Brown was insinuating that she was unqualified for her positions because of her gender, and Democrats have attempted to refocus on the conversation on Brown's contributions from Wall Street donors.
The Massachusetts Democratic Party issued its own request to Brown on Tuesday, demanding he "come clean" about a campaign committee he established to coordinate contributions from New York donors. Although a common practice in political campaigns, Democrats seized on the committee as an opportunity to highlight Brown's ties to Wall Street.
“Brown has a clear record of putting the interests of big banks and Wall Street ahead of Massachusetts families and now he is refusing to come clean about who is on his New York City Finance Committee and what they’ve been promised in return for raising campaign cash," said John Walsh, the chairman of the state party.
Democrats also pointed out that Brown's request came at the same time that he and fellow Republicans were voting in the Senate on Tuesday to block a bill extending low interest rates for student loans, arguing that Brown was trying to distract from his voting record.
"Brown’s latest bait-and-switch illustrates just how personally desperate he is to avoid the real issues in this race — like making college more affordable, protecting Medicare, holding Wall Street accountable," said Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee spokesman Matt Canter. "Because on the issues that matter most to voters Scott Brown sides with Republicans and special interests and against the middle class.”