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Warren: Brown Attacking My Native American Family Heritage

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Elizabeth Warren testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform's subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 2011. (credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Warren testifies before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform’s subcommittee on TARP, Financial Services, and Bailouts of Public and Private Programs during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on May 24, 2011. (credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

BROOKLINE, Mass. (AP) — Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren is accusing Republican U.S. Sen. Scott Brown of launching attacks on her family over her claims of Native American heritage.

Warren made the comment during a campaign stop Thursday in Brookline, where she also called on Congress to pass a bill barring bank executives from sitting on the boards of directors of regional Federal Reserve banks.

Warren said the step is needed given the recent disclosure by JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon of a growing $2 billion loss. She said letting big bank executives sit on the boards of Federal Reserve banks is a conflict of interest.

Warren has also called for Dimon to resign from the board of directors of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

During the stop, Warren was again quizzed by reporters about her claims of Native American ancestry despite having checked a box for “white,” not “American Indian or Alaska Native,” on a personnel file from the University of Texas when asked to select “the racial category or categories with which you most closely identify.”

Warren said she was proud of the Native American heritage, which she said she learned of from her mother. Her campaign has been unable to offer direct documentary proof of that heritage.

“Scott Brown has launched attacks on my family. I am not backing off from my family,” Warren said. “What matters to the voters of Massachusetts is how they’ve been hurt by his votes.”

An aide to Brown denied that the campaign has attacked Warren’s family.

Warren said Brown is trying to distract from the economic issues that matter most to Massachusetts families, including recent votes on proposals to extend a lower interest rate on federal student loans.

Brown’s campaign manager kept up his criticism of Warren on Thursday, accusing her of “misrepresenting herself as a minority.”

“It’s simply not credible for Elizabeth Warren to demand accountability from others when she has refused to take responsibility for her own actions falsely describing herself as a minority professor,” Jim Barnett said in a statement Thursday.

Brown campaign’s has also accused Warren trying to use her claims of Native American heritage to gain an unfair advantage in hiring. Warren’s campaign has offered quotes from officials at the law schools where she worked saying they were either unaware of those claims or they had no influence on their hiring decision.

Warren has been trying to move past the question of her heritage in part by portraying Brown as beholden to Wall Street interests while Brown’s campaign continues to focus on the Native American issue to the exclusion of nearly every other issue.

It’s unclear if either strategy is working.

A poll released Wednesday showed the race is a virtual dead heat.

The poll of 600 likely Massachusetts general election voters found 48 percent back Brown and 47 percent support Warren. That’s well within the poll’s margin of error of four percentage points.

The Suffolk University and WHDH-TV poll also indicates that lingering questions about Warren’s claims of Native American ancestry isn’t seen as a major issue for most voters.

The poll found that while 72 percent of voters were aware of questions surrounding Warren’s heritage, 69 percent said they didn’t feel it was a significant story and 49 percent said Warren was telling the truth about being part Native American.

The May 20-22 poll also indicates that Warren’s criticism that Brown is a Wall Street favorite hasn’t gained much traction with voters. When likely voters were asked if a vote for Brown is a vote for Wall Street, 55 percent disagreed and 33 percent agreed.

Voters were more evenly split on whether Brown should return $50,000 his campaign received from JPMorgan Chase employees, with 43 percent saying he should not return the money and 42 percent saying he should.

(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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