Elizabeth Warren's presidential campaign on Wednesday released information on dozens of bankruptcy cases the former law professor was involved in, a disclosure that is unlikely to quiet GOP attempts to tie her to the corporate clients she represented.
The disclosure includes cases in which Warren served as a consultant, mediator or expert witness in addition to those in which she served as counsel. Previously, during her successful 2012 Senate run against Republican incumbent Scott Brown in Massachusetts, she had released a list of cases in which she served as counsel.
As Warren and multiple Democratic presidential rivals release their past tax returns — a step toward transparency that President Donald Trump has not taken — the lengthy self-reporting allows her to explain her activity on her own terms while running for president on a platform of taking on wealthy interests.
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Among the clients for whom Warren consulted, according to her campaign's list, were the attorneys for Rabobank, a Dutch financial institution that became a creditor in the Enron bankruptcy; former directors of Getty Oil, who were involved in Texaco's bankruptcy; and women whose allegations of harm from silicone breast implants produced by Dow Corning were imperiled when the company filed for bankruptcy.
A half-dozen of the cases on the Warren campaign's list deal with asbestos, a fibrous substance once frequently used in construction that was later linked to cancer and lung disease in individuals with prolonged exposure. As the health risks of asbestos exposure became more widely known in the 1990s, multiple asbestos companies filed for bankruptcy amid mounting legal liabilities.
In a summary of Warren's past cases, her campaign wrote that "the core challenge of bankruptcy is that it attempts to resolve a situation that involves suffering for everyone involved." The campaign added that Warren "worked to help set up trusts and other mechanisms to return $27 billion to victims and their families."
One of Warren's clients, according to the campaign's list, was "a well-known Massachusetts environmental lawyer trying to hold on to some of his earnings after he went broke fighting companies that were dumping toxic waste in Woburn." That lawyer appears to be Jan Schlichtmann, whose advocacy in toxic waste litigation was dramatized by the actor John Travolta in the 1998 film "A Civil Action."
The disclosure comes as the Republican Party continues to try to tie Warren to the moneyed clients she represented, a tactic unsuccessfully employed by Brown in 2012. As Warren climbs in the polls of the 2020 presidential field on a platform of challenging big business, her past work on behalf of some major businesses involved in bankruptcy proceedings could become newly attractive to Republicans seeking to undercut her momentum.
The list posted online by Warren's campaign includes a dozen cases in which the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate served as a counsel, as well as more than a dozen others in which she played roles such as consulting with parties to a settlement or submitting a brief supporting one party's claim in a case.
The cases date from 1985 to 2009, though those dates do not necessarily align with her involvement in them. The campaign compiled its list based on in-depth records searches for all cases in which she represented a party in a legal matter.