The Massachusetts Republican party has urged the University to withhold Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren’s salary while she runs in the upcoming election for the Massachusetts Senate seat currently occupied by Scott Brown.
Warren, who announced her candidacy last week, has alternated between teaching contract law at the Law School and campaigning around the Boston area.
In the most recent polling data from Public Policy Polling, Warren, a Democrat, was leading Brown, a Republican, by 46 to 44 percent.
In a letter to University President Drew G. Faust, Nate Little, executive director of the Massachusetts GOP, expressed concern that Warren’s Senate run would detract from her academic work at Harvard, and that her ties to Harvard may suggest that the University endorses her.
“For Harvard to continue to employ her as a candidate is inconsistent with the academic mission of the college; detracts from the work that she would be expected to perform as a member of the faculty; and creates the impression that Harvard endorses, supports and is in fact subsidizing her campaign,” Little wrote.
University spokesperson John Longbrake pointed to the University’s policies regarding political activity.
Harvard’s policy states that “participation in political campaign activities by senior officials at the University is appropriate so long as those officials clearly indicate that their statements and actions are given in their personal capacities and not on behalf of Harvard.”
The policy also notes that federal law prohibits Harvard from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of a candidate for public office.
In his letter, Little argues that Harvard’s “payment of a salary to Professor Warren causes reasonable-minded people to conclude that Harvard is supportive of her candidacy.”
Warren will continue to teach her courses at the Law School and does not believe that her candidacy will adversely affect her work as a professor, according to her campaign.
“Elizabeth has always loved teaching, dating back to her days as an elementary school teacher,” Kyle Sullivan, a spokesperson for the Warren campaign, wrote in a statement.
“She takes her responsibilities to her students and the university seriously and she will fulfill her commitments in line with all relevant policies,” he wrote.
—Staff writer Tara W. Merrigan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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