U.S. Senator Scott Brown’s income doubled after the Massachusetts Republican took office in 2010, while Democrat Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, listed almost $1 million in two of the past four years.
The candidates ended more than a week of sparring over releasing tax returns today with disclosures of key data that may reshape the way the Senate campaign is waged.
“They’re both clearly very wealthy,” said Jessica Taylor, a senior analyst with the Rothenberg Political Report in Washington. The income disclosed today by both candidates “reinforces the stereotype that each party is trying to play up,” she said.
Brown, 52, who upended state politics by winning a special election for the seat long held by Ted Kennedy, portrays himself as an everyday guy, driving a pickup truck to events, and casts Warren, 62, as a wealthy Ivy League elitist. A bankruptcy-law specialist who helped President Barack Obama set up the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Warren highlights her “middle-class” upbringing and calls Brown an “extremist.”
Brown’s tax-return figures show he and his wife, television reporter Gail Huff, earned $510,856 and paid a quarter of that in taxes in 2011, down from almost $840,000 a year earlier. The state and federal tax breakdown over the six years of data disclosed wasn’t provided. In 2009, when he was a state senator, the Browns reported earning $294,206. Part of the gain last year was from an advance on his book, “Against All Odds.”
“We’ve worked very hard over the last 25 years,” Brown told reporters today in Boston’s Roslindale section, according to the Boston Globe’s website. “We’ve saved and saved and tried to provide a good family effort to provide for ourselves and our kids. We wish that for everybody.”
Warren and her husband, Bruce Mann, also a Harvard law professor, had income of $616,181 in 2011, down from $954,721 the previous year, and also paid about a 26 percent federal and 5 percent state income-tax rate, according to information posted on her campaign website. She is the co-author of several books.
“I am the daughter of a maintenance man who has lived the American Dream,” Warren said at a stop in the city’s Dorchester section, according to the Globe. “And the lesson I take from that is that great opportunities were given to me. I am in this race right now because I worry those opportunities are being taken away.’’
Not 99 Percenters
Both couples appear to rank among the top 1 percent of U.S. income earners, based on a 2009 measure from the Tax Foundation, a nonprofit research organization in Washington. It put the cutoff for that category at adjusted gross income of more than $343,947 for that year.
While Brown’s pickup truck conveys the image of a worker and Warren talks about “growing up middle class” in Oklahoma, today’s disclosures show “they are both very well off,” Taylor said by telephone. “They’re both going to have to talk about how they can relate to people.”
The information released today also shows the Browns contributed $16,487 last year to charity, or 3.2 percent of their income, while Warren and her husband contributed $17,209, or 2.8 percent.
Both candidates have pulled in millions of dollars in campaign contributions, with Brown reporting $3.4 million for the first three months of this year and Warren listing $6.9 million for the period, according to statements this month. Brown has raised $12 million for his drive for a full term, while Warren, who still must win the Democratic nomination for the November election, has collected about $16 million.
This year’s race will help determine whether Democrats retain their edge in the Senate, where the party is defending 21 seats in November, plus two held by independents, compared with 10 for Republicans. The Democratic caucus holds a 53-47 edge.
In Massachusetts, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3-to-1, Brown led Warren 37 percent to 35 percent in a March 21-27 telephone poll of 544 likely voters by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center. Independents, who make up more than half of the state’s electorate, backed Brown 42 percent to 14 percent, the canvass for the Boston Globe showed. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.2 percent.