U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s ailing presidential campaign is facing fresh scandal about her false claims of Native American heritage as the Cambridge Democrat tries to mount a 2020 comeback in delegate-rich Super Tuesday states like California.
A group of 200 Native Americans issued an open letter Tuesday night scolding Warren for identifying as part Cherokee, citing new reporting from the Los Angeles Times that showed $800 million in federal grants meant for Native Americans went instead to “white members of fake ‘tribes.'”
“When you still defend yourself by stating you believed what you heard growing up, you set a harmful example for these white people stealing Native identity and resources with stories very similar to your own,” the letter states, calling Warren’s apologies, “vague and inadequate.”
“You have yet to fully address the harm you have caused,” the letter states.
Warren claimed to have Cherokee heritage for many years and Harvard University reported her as a minority hire during Warren’s tenure as a law professor, an issue first reported by the Herald. The story dogged the Cambridge Democrat as her answers about why and where she claimed minority status varied and President Trump relentlessly mocked her about the issue.
Shortly before Warren announced her presidential exploratory committee, she announced the results of a DNA test saying it proved her Native American heritage. The move proved disastrous and the senior senator later apologized to Cherokee Nation for publicizing the results.
Warren responded to the letter Tuesday night with a 12-page rebuttal, again apologizing for her identification but maintaining that she never benefited from her claims.
“I am not a person of color; I am a white woman,” Warren responded. “I was wrong to have identified as Native American, and, without qualification or excuse, I apologize.”
The letter was organized by Cherokee Nation citizens Joseph M. Pierce, Daniel Heath Justice, Rebecca Nagle and Twila Barnes. Barnes, who has been critical of Warren’s heritage claims since 2012, said she wants action, not just an apology.
“I still don’t think she fully grasps the problem with this — she always wants to blame this on Republicans instead,” Barnes said. Warren refused to meet with Barnes in 2012 and suggested shadowy conservatives connected to then-Republican opponent Scott Brown were behind complaints from Barnes and other members of Cherokee Nation.
“She always wants to portray us as Republicans instead of who we are, which is concerned members of Cherokee Nation,” said Barnes, adding that she never had any connection to Brown or other Republicans. “I have the right to talk about my issues with what she did, and it has nothing to do with Scott Brown and it has nothing to do with Trump. It has everything to do with Elizabeth Warren.”
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