Chuck Schumer Offered Scott Brown Safe Path To Reelection If He Supported “Disclose Act”


New York Senator Chuck Schumer made some interesting comments in a recent interview:

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), in a new interview with The New Republic, says he offered former senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) an electoral pass in 2012 if Brown would give Democrats the deciding vote for the so-called “Disclose Act.”

The legislation, pushed by Democrats in 2010 following the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, would have required corporations, unions and interest groups to provide more information about their political actions and spending. It came up one vote shy in the Senate.

“I went to Scott Brown and said, ‘If you give us the 60th vote for the Citizens United rollback, we won’t go after you,'” said Schumer. “I spent a lot of time lobbying him, and met some of his friends and had them lobby him. He said yes. Then he said no. So I wanted to recruit the strongest candidate against him, and I thought that was Elizabeth Warren.”

Schumer is a former head of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, though he wasn’t its chairman in the 2010 election cycle.

In an e-mail response sent to Post Politics, Brown said Schumer is showing his partisan stripes.

“As the most partisan person in Washington, it’s difficult to take anything that Chuck Schumer says seriously,” Brown said, adding: “With people like Chuck Schumer running the Senate, it’s no wonder the American people hold Congress in such low regard. He and his Democratic colleagues in the Senate are the problem. Fortunately for voters, next year we get a chance to replace these Schumer acolytes with fresh, new leadership.”

On one level, this isn’t really entirely surprising. Horse trading like this has a long, often sordid, history in Washington politics and agreements not to support potential opponents for re-election is often among the biggest offer that can be made to a politician. What’s interesting, though, is the question of whether Schumer could have delivered on this promise. The idea of Elizabeth Warren challenging Brown in 2012 had not really taken hold in 2010 when these discussions between the two men would have taken place. More importantly, it’s unclear how Schumer could have prevented Warren from running if she wanted to, the most he could have done would be to prevent the DSSC from providing funds to Warren’s campaign, but that’s something that likely would have caused much consternation among Democrats nationwide given that Brown’s seat was seen as particularly vulnerable and Warren had become something of a national icon on the left due to her role in the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the pressure that was put on President Obama to appoint her as the first Director of that body. By the time the question of challenging Scott Brown came around, Warren had a broad swath of national support. Indeed, looking at the race profile at Gov Track, one finds that the DSSC came in 4th in terms of outside spending on the race at under $900,000. Three other groups each contributed a total of nearly $3.5 million in outside spending, and the DSSC’s contribution amounted to a small percentage of both the outside money spent on the campaign and the total amount spent by or on behalf of Warren. Quite honestly, if the DSSC had stuck by Schumer’s proposal I doubt it would have had a serious impact on the race.

The other way of looking at this, of course, doesn’t exactly put Schumer in the best light given the fact that he comes across as someone willing to stab a member of his own party in the back just to get one vote on one piece of legislation. Now, to be fair, Schumer doesn’t have a stellar reputation to begin with, but this revelation is likely to annoy many Democrats who are fans of Elizabeth Warren.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Gavrilo says:

    Cue the drone army: “Scott Brown is such a tool of Koch Brother/corporate interests that he sacrificed his own re-election rather than vote for common-sense legislation designed to increase political transparency.”

  2. gVOR08 says:

    @Gavrilo: As I recall, Scott Brown was more a tool of Wall St money than the Koch bros. Otherwise, was that supposed to be snark?

  3. wr says:

    Just when I think you can’t be a bigger tool than Schumer, Scott Brown opens his mouth and reminds me just how possible that is.

  4. Rob in CT says:


    It’s amazing, really. Brown’s statement is really repulsive, because it’s a textbook example of modern political speech. It’s like a bot “wrote” it. Maybe one did.

    Schumer – not a fan, myself. Mostly b/c of foreign policy issues, with a side of soft-on-Wall St. (which, to be fair, is probably simply inevitable in a Senator from New York). I’m not sure on where I stand on the subject of backroom deals like this. It feels scuzzy, but no less scuzzy than many other facets of our politics.

  5. rudderpedals says:

    No Senator should have needed persuasion to vote for the Disclose Act. Brown’s defeat was inevitable; his win was the aberration,

  6. Gromitt Gunn says:

    I really can’t take anyone seriously who thinks that Chuck Shumer has acolytes.

  7. al-Ameda says:

    Schumer? This is about Brown. Schumer’s role here is about high level power brokering, Brown’s decision had to do with whether or not he supported efforts to disclose the sources of campaign money … or not. Frankly, this should have been an easy call for Scott Brown on the Disclose Act, yet he decided to go with the people who gave us Citizen’s United? And here we are.