Warren’s Snowed ‘Globe’

Questions raised over Boston Globe reporting on Massachusetts Democrat’s law school application

• May 31, 2012 5:00 am


The campaign of Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren may have leaked previously unavailable documents to the Boston Globe in order to defuse the growing controversy over her claim to American Indian ancestry, according to correspondence obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

The disclosure of information contained on Warren’s 1973 application to Rutgers University Law School fits a pattern of cooperation and favorable treatment between Warren’s campaign and the Globe, Boston’s largest metropolitan daily.

The controversy began on May 8 when incumbent Republican Sen. Scott Brown called for Warren to release her law school records in their entirety, in response to reports that the former professor had used her unverified Cherokee heritage to obtain teaching positions at the University of Pennsylvania in 1987 and Harvard Law School in 1992.

The Warren campaign refused to release her law school records, saying Brown was "shamelessly attempting to divert attention from his record."

However, on May 10, the Boston Globe reported that Warren had not identified as American Indian when applying to Rutgers Law in the early 1970s. 

"A section of Warren’s 1973 application to Rutgers, where she went to law school, was more direct," the Globe reported. "That document specifically asks: ‘Are you interested in applying for admission under the Program for Minority Group Students?’ Warren answered ‘no.’"

The Globe did not identify the provenance of this information.

However, correspondence between Rutgers and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) suggests that the only legal means by which the Globe could have obtained the Warren application was through the consumer advocate’s campaign itself.

In May, the National Republican Senatorial Committee requested from Rutgers any admissions records pertaining to Warren’s time as a student and lecturer at Rutgers School of Law-Newark in the 1970s.

Rutgers University sent the chief counsel of the NRSC a reply in a letter dated May 11 denying the request, citing legal statutes.

Rutgers sent the NRSC’s chief counsel another letter dated May 22 denying that it had provided Warren’s law school application to any media outlets.

That would be illegal without the former student’s consent, a Rutgers representative said in the letter.

"This office has not provided Ms. Warren’s educational or personnel records to the New York Times, the Washington Post, or any other requestor. As explained in our response letter, these records either don’t exist or are exempt from public access by state or federal law," wrote Rutgers compliance associate Kimberlee M. Pastva.

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) "prohibits the University from disclosing a student’s educational records without prior consent from the student," according to Rutgers’ May 11 letter to the NRSC.

The news that the Globe could only legally have known the contents of Warren’s law school application through Warren herself comes at a time when the paper is under fire for its favorable treatment of the Democratic candidate.

On May 1, the Globe printed a story in its Metro section entitled "Document ties Warren kin to Cherokees," claiming that a genealogist had discovered material proof of Warren’s claim to 1/32nd Cherokee blood.

On May 15, the Globe ran a correction in its "For the Record" section—beneath two other unrelated corrections—admitting that the Globe had not actually seen the document referred to in the May 1 story, and that the document might not exist.

"Neither the [New England Historic Genealogical] Society nor the Globe has seen the primary document, whose existence has not been proven," the Globe wrote in its correction. 

Warren has yet to provide evidence to support her claim of Cherokee descent, or released any other records of her college and law school days.

Warren could release her University of Pennsylvania records if she "grants access in writing," according to the Protocols for the University of Pennsylvania Archives and Records Center.

Warren self-identified as a minority in the American Association of Law Schools directory between 1984 and 1995.

Both the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard Law School touted Warren’s Native American credentials as evidence of faculty diversity.

The Warren campaign and the Boston Globe did not return requests for comment.