Warren’s daughter part of group connected to welfare voting drive

Organization claimed Mass. violated federal voting laws; state now sending registration forms on taxpayer dime

• August 9, 2012 3:28 pm


SHANNON BREAM: Troubling new questions in the neck-and-neck Senate race in Massachusetts. Is Liz Warren's daughter using taxpayer money to help her mom beat Scott Brown? That's the question. Amelia Warren is the chair of the board of trustees for a group called Demos. Last May, it was connected to a lawsuit claiming Massachusetts violated federal laws by not offering people on welfare the chance to register to vote when they went and signed up for public assistance. As part of the settlement reached last month, the state is now sending voter registration forms to nearly half a million welfare recipients, and it is the taxpayers picking up the tab. Listen to a local reporter asking warren about the controversy.

REPORTER: Do you think these are dirty tricks at all, or, I mean, what about charges that, you know, this is just an attempt to get more Democratic voters to support you?

ELIZABETH WARREN: You know, this is about compliance with the law so that the laws are currently, the law should be enforced, and i think that's exactly —

REPORTER: No dirty tricks or anything?

WARREN: Look, you know, no one likes to see a tax on their family. But this is about a law that's been in place for 20 years. And this organization was working on enforcement of this law before Amelia ever even joined it.

BREAM: Michael Graham is with WTKK-FM and a columnist for the Boston Herald. What do you make of this? what's the reaction like there?

MICHAEL GRAHAM: First of all, thank you for shouting out to Aly, our local hero, the gymnast who did her routine on the 40th anniversary of the Palestinian terror. My listeners love her, and they just saw that piece — I apologize for taking up time.

BREAM: No, she was flawless.

GRAHAM: Oh, she's terrific, and we love Aly in Massachusetts. I don't want to preview my column too much, but the rest of the country naive people, wild-eyed and innocent believe in the tooth fairy and unicorns in Massachusetts people believe in coincidence. The sheer coincidence that these welfare recipients had never seen a stack of registration forms nearby, and she just by coincidence gets found by Elizabeth Warren's daughter's group just in time, by coincidence, for a May lawsuit before the election, that by coincidence the Deval Patrick administration immediately settles, they don't fight it, he settles it and says by coincidence our solution's going to be to mail registration forms to 478,000 welfare recipients. What a coincidence for the Democrats on the eve of a tight election.

BREAM: Well, you mentioned, you know, the governor there did not challenge this. These suits are going on in a number of different states, but my understanding is this is costing roughly $275,000 of taxpayer money, they've also got to run TV and radio ads, and the secretary of state has to go out and do some public appearances where he explains the law in person to those who may be affected. do you think it'll sway folks at all? Confusion for them about whether these voter registrations are connected to their benefits in any way?

BREAM: Two things first, you mentioned the governor, the law firm that brought the lawsuit against the Patrick administration, one of the partners is the governor's wife. So once again, oh, what a coincidence that the governor got a lawsuit that he loved right when he wanted it that gave him permission to send out these voter registrations. Secondly, who sent them out? Our secretary of state, as you pointed out, is the election official. But these 478,000 welfare recipients got registrations from him, they got them from the welfare department. So, yeah, maybe they don't follow politics, maybe they've never voted before, they get a letter that usually has their check in it, or something related to their benefits, but all of a sudden instead there's a thing that says fill out this voter registration form, it's important. Do you think they're going to wonder or say, "Hey, this is from the welfare office for some reason, I'd better send it in"?

BREAM: Well, as Elizabeth Warren, to be fair, mentioned, the law does require this in a number of states, that authorities have to be sure people know these forms are available, they have to reach out to them, so isn't this merely just the state doing what it's supposed to be doing anyway, enforcing the law?

GRAHAM: No, the settlement is not necessary. This is a deal they agreed to–in other words, it's kind of like a player who doesn't like the basketball team he's on, and he wants the hem to kick him off — them to kick him off? I used to work for the secretary of state in south carolina in my days as a political consultant. You can put the stacks of forms in. Our voter registration doesn't close until Oct. 17. If they just went around with stacks of forms, that lady at the welfare office who complained would have one in front of her the next time she went in. They chose a solution that they didn't need for a problem that didn't exist to help Elizabeth Warren win an election, and her daughter led the effort, and almost everyone on the panel of this group, the Demos group is a Democrat. Many of them have given money to Elizabeth Warren. This is how Massachusetts plans to steal this seat from Scott Brown. That's the plan.

BREAM: It's a hot race, it's going to be close. we'll be watching it, we know you will too. Michael Graham, thank you very much.

GRAHAM: Thanks for having me.

Published under: Congress, Elizabeth Warren, Video