Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) built her campaign, in part, on standing up to “big corporations,” but her past corporate legal work — particularly with Dow Corning and the lawsuits lodged against it from women who claimed the company’s silicone gel breast implants made them sick — shows a different, seldom explored side of the presidential candidate.
In May, the Warren campaign released a list of the corporate bankruptcy cases she took part in. The Washington Post delved into Warren’s past work with Dow Corning, which faced “thousands” of lawsuits from women in the ’90s who claimed that the company’s silicone breast implants made them ill.
In 2002, Warren admitted that she “served in an advisory capacity to Dow Chemical, the parent company of Dow Corning, in the early days of the Dow Corning bankruptcy,” but she has failed to elaborate in depth on her role in the public sphere, particularly since launching her presidential bid.
Her campaign has tried to put a light, positive spin on her work in that specific corporate legal matter, reiterating that she served as “a consultant to ensure adequate compensation for women who claimed injury” and adding that “a $2.3 billion fund for the women was started ‘thanks in part to Elizabeth’s efforts,'” the Washington Post reports.
It appears though, as the Post notes, that the Warren campaign’s statement is misleading at best, as the facts suggest that she stood on the side of Dow Corning, assisting the company in paying out as little as possible.
According to the Post:
“She was on the wrong side of the table,” said Sybil Goldrich, who co-founded a support group for women with implants and battled the companies for years. Goldrich said Dow Corning and its parent “used every trick in the book” to limit the size of payouts to women. The companies, she added, “were not easy to deal with at all.”
A person familiar with Warren’s role who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe litigation strategy said the future senator was part of a Dow defense team that had containing the company’s liability as a goal.
Warren, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts and former Ivy League law professor, is building a White House campaign on her long-standing image as an advocate for consumers and a fierce critic of corporations. While Warren has won praise for a policy-driven platform offering a coherent critique of unchecked capitalism, she has yet to fully explain how her years of private consulting and legal work, sometimes on behalf of major corporations involved in bankruptcy cases, comport with her recent statements while campaigning.
Warren has taken aim at big corporations from the very beginning of her presidential bid, even incorporating it in her announcement video.
“How did we get here?” she asked in the video. “Billionaires and big corporations decided they wanted more of the pie, and they enlisted politicians to cut them a fatter slice.”
She took it a step further during a town hall in Fort Wayne, Indiana, last month.
“We’re in Fort Wayne, Indiana, because people in Indiana understand jobs,” Warren said at the town hall. “They understand how you build an economy that doesn’t just work for a thin slice at the top, but an economy that works for everyone.”
But people in Fort Wayne, Indiana, also understand that leaving it to a handful of giant multinational corporations to build our economy just isn’t working. You know, those big corporations, they don’t have any loyalty to America. They don’t have any loyalty to American workers. They have loyalty to exactly one thing, and that is their own profits. And what we’ve got to do is we’ve got to have a government that doesn’t say, hey, whatever it is that the giant multinational corporations want, let us help you. We’ve got to have a government that says we need this economy — we need this country to work for working people. And that’s what we’re going to do.
Warren has yet to respond to the latest questions surrounding her involvement with Dow Corning’s payouts.