Who is Elizabeth Warren? A bio of the Democratic presidential candidate
Editor's note: This story is part of PolitiFact’s ongoing coverage of the 2020 campaign; these reports will be updated as the campaign continues. For more candidate profiles and fact-checking, go to www.politifact.com/2020/
Elizabeth Warren has set the pace among the Democratic field for issuing policy proposals for everything from child care to family farms. But she made her mark in the arcane world of bankruptcy law. In 1989, Warren, along with two colleagues at the University of Texas where Warren had taught law, published a book on personal bankruptcies that undercut the assumption that bad decisions drove people over the financial cliff.
"As We Forgive Our Debtors" argued that a fair share of blame belonged to credit card companies and their easy-credit marketing campaigns. The book was readable and provocative, and Warren became a sought-after guest on television.
The detailed personal financial struggles behind the book echoed Warren’s early years in Oklahoma, when her father was a janitor and her mother worked at Sears. As a young mother, she got a law degree at Rutgers University and eventually joined the Harvard Law faculty teaching bankruptcy and commercial law.
Although she started out as a registered Republican, by the mid 1990s she was a Democrat. In the 2012 election, she defeated incumbent Republican Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown. During that campaign, Brown’s staff learned that in the mid 1980s and into the early 1990s, Warren had noted on internal law school forms that she had Native American ancestry. Warren attributed the undocumented claim to family lore and has since apologized, but the episode has dogged her, most notably through the sarcastic nickname Pocahontas, placed on her by President Donald Trump.
Before joining the Senate, Warren pressed for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in 2010 as a check against the sort of credit practices that contributed to the 2008 financial meltdown. Opposition from the financial industry and Republicans sunk efforts to appoint Warren to head the new agency.
Name: Elizabeth Warren
Current occupation: U.S. Senator from Massachusetts
Federal offices: U.S. Senate 2013 to present
Key votes: Opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and voted against granting President Barack Obama fast-track negotiating authority. Voted to move the Iran nuclear deal forward in 2015 and in favor of criminal justice reform in 2018. Voted for measures to provide a path to citizenship for people brought illegally to America as children. Voted against the Republican Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Voted against Republican measures to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
State and local offices: None
Private sector work: Professor of law at University of Houston (1978), University of Texas - Austin (1983), University of Pennsylvania (1987) and Harvard University (1995).
Books authored/co-authored: "As We Forgive Our Debtors: Bankruptcy and Consumer Credit in America" (1989); "The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents are Going Broke" (2004); "Casenote Legal Briefs: Commercial Law" (2006); "The Law of Debtors and Creditors: Text, Cases, and Problems" (2008); "A Fighting Chance" (2014); "This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America's Middle Class" (2017)
Education: BS University of Houston, 1970; JD Rutgers Law School, 1976
Birth date: June 22, 1949
Personal life: Married to Bruce Mann since 1980; two children, Amelia and Alexander from a previous marriage.
Top issues: Consumer financial protection, affordable child care and higher education, financial regulation, creating a wealth tax on assets over $50 million.
Endorsements: Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey, and Reps. Joe Kennedy III, Jim McGovern and Lori Trahan.
Major donors: Warren receives no PAC money. The bulk of her funding, about $10 million, comes from her Senate campaign accounts. She has raised about $6 million from individuals, about 70% of that in donations under $200.
Miscellaneous: Warren wrote two of her books – "The Two-Income Trap" and "All Your Worth" – with her daughter Amelia. She got her undergraduate degree in speech pathology.
Campaign website: https://elizabethwarren.com/