Democratic Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s political career has been boosted by her daughter’s connections to left-wing groups, which could damage her standing with independent voters, observers in Massachusetts and outside experts say.
Warren’s daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi, chairs the George Soros-funded progressive think tank Demos as well as the board of directors of the liberal magazine the American Prospect, which is a "partner publication" to Demos. Both organizations have been extremely supportive of Warren’s political rise and have helped cultivate her image as a champion of the left.
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"Warren already has the progressive credentials she needs," said David Paleologos, a Massachusetts-based pollster and director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center. "She doesn’t need to be dragged further to the left to the point where she’s defending relatives who represent interests that are even further to the left than she claims to be."
Demos employees include far-left activists, veterans of the Obama and John Edwards presidential campaigns, and a former fellow at George Soros’ Open Society Institute. One of the group’s aims is "rethinking American capitalism." According to one section of its mission statement:
Most fundamentally, a sustainable, just, and democratic future requires rethinking American capitalism as it exists today as a system of political economy. If we are going to care for people and the planet, large-scale changes are needed in how Americans consume and live, how the United States structures economic activity and measures progress, and how we engage in the global economy.
Demos’ connections to the left are far-reaching.
Van Jones, 9/11 Truther and founder of Color for Change and Green for All, serves on the Demos Board of Trustees. Demos senior fellow Benjamin Barber was a "longtime adviser to Saif al-Qaddafi," son of the late Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi.
George Soros’ Open Society Foundations and Open Society Institute-Brussels provided funding for the organization in 2011.
Demos president Miles Rapoport issued a press release in July 2010 supporting Warren’s bid to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and another in July 2011 praising her "leadership" in designing the CFPB.
"Demos has long been a vocal supporter of Elizabeth Warren and commends her for working tirelessly to set up the CFPB all while defending it from unrelenting and unfounded attacks," Rapoport wrote.
Rapoport did not mention Elizabeth Warren’s personal ties to Demos in either statement.
The Demos blog celebrated the launch of Warren’s Senate campaign in August 2011, calling her "a figure of rare integrity" and proclaiming, "she and this republic are better served by Warren making the Senate run."
Demos presented Warren with a "Transforming America" award in 2010 at its 10th anniversary gala.
Elizabeth Warren also promoted her book The Two-Income Trap at a December 2003 event at New York’s Drum Major Institute co-sponsored by Demos.
Demos senior counsel Lisa Danetz contributed $500 to Warren’s Senate campaign.
Amelia Warren Tyagi also chairs the board of directors of the American Prospect, a liberal opinion journal.
Like Demos, the American Prospect has strongly supported Elizabeth Warren’s Senate campaign and nascent political career.
Prospect co-founder and Demos senior fellow Robert Kuttner wrote an article in July 2011 entitled "Senator Warren?" that encouraged Warren to announce her candidacy. "God knows this battered republic and the progressive movement need her leadership," Kuttner wrote.
Kuttner wrote another Prospect piece in December 2011 accusing Karl Rove of running a negative ad about Warren. "Happily, Warren’s good work is so well known that the ad will strike viewers as laughable," he wrote.
Kuttner did not disclose Warren’s personal ties to the Prospect in either piece. A June 2011 post by Kuttner did disclose the relationship, however.
Another Prospect post called Warren a "nurturing warrior" and proclaimed, "Why do liberals love Elizabeth Warren so much? It's because of her actual record and positions, of course."
Warren’s record of support from her daughter’s organizations may hurt her chances in November because it links her to interests that may be too extreme for independent voters, political experts tell the Free Beacon.
"I doubt very much that the Boston Globe is going to hype these issues—obviously the Globe is going to bury them—but I think they could definitely have an impact with independent voters," said elections expert Jay Cost, the author of Spoiled Rotten, which was released Tuesday.
"It’s not so much that any one issue in isolation is going to play a big role in this race, but the sheer accumulation of stories about this woman—things she’s hidden, things she’s distorted about herself—could be very influential," Cost said.
"It’s not surprising, considering where Elizabeth Warren is coming from, that she has these kinds of connections in her family," Paleologos said. "But it might be damaging, considering that her fate lies with independents."
Amelia Warren Tyagi is married to a Sushil Tyagi, a movie producer with ties to a controversial Iranian filmmaker.
During his tenure as president of Algorithmic Productions, Tyagi produced a 2008 film by Iranian director Majid Majidi.
Majidi previously directed the documentary Barefoot to Herat, which depicted the plight of refugees in a Taliban camp in the aftermath of the 9/11-prompted U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.
"If Elizabeth Warren is seen as too comfortable with extremists, then that’s not going to help her at all," Cost said. "Massachusetts has a very large Catholic vote, and Catholics tend to be very conservative on issues of terrorism."
Elizabeth Warren and Amelia Warren Tyagi thanked Sushil Tyagi in the acknowledgments of their financial self-help book, All Your Worth.
Elizabeth Warren has also cited Sushil Tyagi on her campaign website.
"Some independents in Massachusetts might think this is too extreme," said Paleologos. "The big prize in this race is independents. Fifty-two percent of Massachusetts voters are independents."
These revelations about Warren’s family and personal history "may upset some voters," he said.
"Independents outnumber Republicans and Democrats in Massachusetts," Cost added. "If Elizabeth Warren alienates too many independents, then Scott Brown will win this election."