Tuesday May 1, 2012

BOSTON (AP) -- The U.S. Senate campaign pitting Mass achusetts Republican Sen. Scott Brown and likely Democratic challenger Eliza beth Warr en has taken an unexpected turn by delving into whether Warren has claimed Native American heritage in her academic career.

Warren, who grew up in Oklahoma, said she’s proud of her family ties to Cherokee and Delaware tribes -- a heritage she said she learned through stories passed down to her from older family members.

At the same time, Warren has said she wasn’t aware officials at Harvard Law School had promoted her as a Native American faculty member in the 1990s, even though academic directories from 1986-1995 indicated Warren had identified herself as a "minority law teacher" before being hired by Harvard.

Warren hasn’t talked about her Native Amer i can heritage on the campaign trail up until now.

Warren’s campaign has yet to produce any documentation of her Native American ties, although they say they are looking. Warren also told reporters that she couldn’t recall using her heritage to claim a minority status when seeking a job.

Brown’s campaign manager, Jim Barnett, said the story "raises serious questions about Elizabeth Warren’s credibility."

"Prof. Warren needs to come clean about her motivations for making these claims and explain the contradictions between her rhetoric and the record," Barnett said.

Warren’s campaign accused Brown of using smears to call into question "the qualifications and ability of a woman."

"If Scott Brown has questions about Elizabeth Warren’s well-known qualifications ... he ought to ask them directly instead of hiding behind the nasty insinuations of his campaign and trying to score political points," said Warren’s campaign manager, Mindy Myers.

Brown, speaking briefly to reporters on Monday, said it’s up to Warren to answer questions raised by the media.