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Elizabeth Warren's Harvard Ties Pay Off

By Nicholas P. Fandos, Crimson Staff Writer

In an unprecedented show of support, Harvard employees have combined to donate more than $227,000 to Harvard Law School professor Elizabeth Warren’s campaign for the Massachusetts’s junior U.S. Senate seat since last September, helping to make their colleague the best-financed congressional candidate in the country.

New Federal Election Commission filings show 267 employees from all reaches of the University—the vast majority of whom are professors—collectively gave Warren an unprecedented $227,124 between September 2011 and August 17.

Such widespread and deep-pocketed support for Warren is more than any candidate except President Barack Obama has received from Harvard employees in recent memory.

Warren’s opponent, Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown received just $33,460 from 30 individuals on Harvard’s payroll during the same period. The majority of Brown’s Harvard donors identified themselves as employees of Harvard Business School.

The Massachusetts Senate race has proved thus far to be the most expensive in the country, with Warren and Brown combining to raise more than $45 million dollars. Contributions from Harvard employees, while symbolically important, represent only a small fraction of Warren’s $28 million total.

Much of Warren’s support within the University has come from the Law School, where she taught for many years until taking a leave of absence to focus on her campaign early last fall, and where her husband Bruce H. Mann still teaches. In the time since that leave began, a tight group of Warren backers has emerged among long-time colleagues and admirers, who have given generously, defended Warren in the press, and hosted fundraising events on her behalf.

Law professors David B. Wilkins ’77, Laurence H. Tribe ’62, and Charles J. Ogletree have all hosted or co-hosted events for Warren, donating between $2,500 and $5,000 each while helping to bring in hundreds of thousands more in support. Law professor Jeannie Suk will co-host a fundraising gala for Warren next week. Wilkins and Tribe, who helped recruit and hire Warren to the Law School faculty in the 1990s, were also integral in defending the candidate against accusations that she deliberately misled the school into believing she was a minority during the hiring process.

Though University policy bars institutional endorsement of a candidate, a number of top University professors and administrators have donated to Warren’s campaign. Prominent donors on the Harvard payroll include professor Charles E. Rosenberg, the husband of University President Drew G. Faust, and former University President Derek C. Bok.

Though Harvard employees have traditionally donated more money to Democratic candidates, the rate at which Warren is raising funds among them surpasses that of any U.S. Senate candidate in recent memory. By comparison, during the 2010 special election cycle, Harvard employees contributed roughly $11,350 to Brown and $54,000 to Mass. Attorney General Martha M. Coakley as the two competed to fill the empty Senate seat of the late Edward M. Kennedy ’54-’56.

In February, The Crimson reported that 110 Harvard employees had given Warren’s campaign just over $102,000 during the first four months of her campaign. Analysis of FEC filings made prior to last month’s state primary show that, since the beginning of 2012, Warren has raised $124,939 from 178 different Harvard employees.

Warren’s campaign has drawn criticism for its lack of financial visibility. Only about 56 percent of the total contributions made to the campaign by individuals have been itemized with the FEC. The data summarized by The Crimson represented only itemized individual contributions by individuals who reported working for Harvard.

Warren’s campaign did not comment directly on support it has received from Harvard employees, though Warren spokesperson Alethea Harney said the campaign is grateful to all of its 45,000 Massachusetts donors.

Brown and Warren, who have been mired in a statistical dead-heat at the polls since January, will debate for the first time Thursday. Despite what appeared to be a recent Brown lead, three different polls released earlier this week showed Warren slightly ahead.

—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at

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