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Elizabeth Warren campaign criticized for running a “Great Scam” to lure applicants into unpaid fellowships

Elizabeth Warren campaign criticized for running a “Great Scam” to lure applicants into unpaid fellowships

“they were pushed toward unpaid positions over paid ones, misled over the availability of financial assistance, and asked to sign highly restrictive nondisclosure agreements”

Elizabeth Warren’s not practicing what she preaches is a recurring theme in her political career, beyond her Native American problem.

As we covered in 2012 and again recently, Warren made millions representing large corporations in legal cases hostile to consumers and workers, yet portrayed that work completely differently: Elizabeth Warren’s erroneous claim to have tried to help women with breast implant claims when she represented Dow Chemical

She also attacks businesses for not paying enough to workers, yet as we reported in 2013, didn’t pay her Senate office interns: Elizabeth Warren pays interns $0 per hour.

Warren claimed to rectify the unpaid internship practice in her Senate office as she prepared for a presidential run, but it has resurfaced at her presidential campaign operation in the form of a “fellowship” program.

The Daily Beast reports, Warren Fellowship Applicants: Campaign Program Was a ‘Great Scam’:

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has built much of her political career as a champion of workers and consumers against the deceptive and exploitative practices of corporations and employers.

But as she navigates the latest chapter of that career arc—a run for the Democratic nomination for the presidency—the Massachusetts Democrat faces criticism from several of her own supporters who said the lowest tier of her campaign structure doesn’t match the image she projects.

Two early converts to Warren described the process for entry into her campaign’s volunteer fellowship program as deceptive and at times exploitative in interviews with The Daily Beast. They said they were pushed toward unpaid positions over paid ones, misled over the availability of financial assistance, and asked to sign highly restrictive nondisclosure agreements that worker advocacy groups concede are irregular. Both applicants verified their accounts with emails and text messages from the Warren campaign.

The Daily Beast story has the details:

“What was sold to me was very different than it actually was,” said Jonathan Nendze, a rising senior at Seton Hall University who was offered a volunteer fellowship position on Warren’s campaign. “It was kind of a great scam of getting people to show up and work in the capacity of volunteer, but to function as a paid intern in the amount of work they’re doing,” he said.

Like other Democrats running for the White House, Warren’s campaign offers paid internships. But unlike many others, the campaign also offers volunteer fellowships and volunteer fellowships for academic credit. Earlier this month, The Daily Beast reported that some workers’ rights groups and activists worried that having an unpaid option could lead to a loophole for campaigns to exploit free labor. In the aftermath of that report, two applicants who were offered positions in Warren’s volunteer fellowship program in early-voting states came forward to say that they felt their experiences illustrated those fears.

There is an interesting side issue, Warren required unpaid fellows to sign Non-Disclosure Agreements:

Ultimately, Nendze was offered a position as a volunteer fellow. As part of the on-boarding process, he was sent a mandatory non-disclosure agreement—to sign upon accepting the offer and passing the campaign’s vetting process—stating that volunteer fellows would “not communicate with any member of the press” or “make any statement that may impair or otherwise adversely affect the goodwill or reputation” of Warren for President Inc., among other provisions.

The Campaign Workers Guild, a group focused on improving working conditions on campaigns, said providing NDAs to unpaid volunteers on campaigns is not a common practice, though it occasionally happens in large-scale races. Former Vice President Joe Biden, one of the only Democratic 2020 campaigns to offer a similar unpaid fellowship program, does not require volunteer fellows to sign NDAs, a campaign official confirmed.

Nendze said he did not sign the agreement. The emails sent to Nendze were reviewed by The Daily Beast.

And there’s more. After the Daily Beast contacted Warren’s campaign, the campaign put on a show of public support for the fellows:

This is pretty classic Warren campaign tactics — when contacted for comment on an investigation, they proactively try to create a narrative before publication. That is what happened when The Washington Post contacted Warren’s campaign about her representation of Dow Chemical regrading breast implant litigation:

Shortly after The Post contacted Warren’s campaign for comment on this story, a lawyer from Warren’s campaign called Gold­rich, the advocate for breast implant victims, to ask her to make a positive statement about the settlement.

“They asked, ‘Could I make a comment about whether the deal was fair? Would I say it was a fair deal? Was it fair?’ ” said Goldrich, recalling her conversation. “I wouldn’t say that.”

You know who is most upset with this? Bernie supporters, who have noted how Bernie has received enormous negative media coverage for not paying $15 an hour, while Warren receives relatively little coverage for paying fellows nothing.

It’s only a matter of time before Bernie goes after Warren.


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Please stop using the word “erroneous” to describe her remarks, statements, claims, whatever. They are quite clearly deceitful or untrue, if you want to use adjectives, or lies, if you prefer a noun. “Erroneous” gives the impression that she did not know what side she was on, or that she forgot, neither of which are even remotely plausible. There were no errors, just lies.

And thank you very much for your work; it is much appreciated. I am here more than once a day. Overkill, I know, but there are so few places to get actual reporting to a depth that brings whole stories together anymore…

    Tom Servo in reply to BobF. | July 27, 2019 at 1:09 pm

    wait a minute – it’s almost like you’re saying that she’s based her entire academic and political career on a lifetime of lying and defrauding people. Surely not Lizzie!

goddessoftheclassroom | July 27, 2019 at 11:11 am

As always, Professor, you lay out the facts with supporting evidence for your points with style and your inimical voice.
However, please allow me to address one grammatical item that is frequently overlooked but does affect meaning: the gerund modified by a possessive.
You wrote: “Elizabeth Warren not practicing what she preaches is are [sic–I believe you meant “a”] recurring theme.”
In this sentence, the subject is “Elizabeth Warren” modified by the participial phrase, “not practicing what she preaches.” It is obvious that the predicate “is a recurring theme” does not complement Ms. Warren.
In fact, the intended subject is “not practicing what she preaches,” which is a gerund phrase. Since this is the case, “Elizabeth Warren” must be the possessive “Elizabeth Warren’s.”
Thus, the sentence should be “Elizabeth Warren’s not practicing what she preaches is a recurring theme.”
I know this is a very small point and that your audience is able to understand your meaning, but as an English teacher, I defend the small points–“for a want of a nail…”

2smartforlibs | July 27, 2019 at 11:42 am

Kind of runs counter to her demand for a $15 min, doesn’t it? Again 2 tier system.

I don’t blame Warren for trying to do this on the cheap. Everybody would like to ask [and receive] $250,000 for their $200,000 house. The problem lies with the moronic lemming snowflakes agreeing to this …. they should tell the Warren campaign to pound sound and walk away. As David Hannum [PT Barnum competitor] reportedly said …. there’s a sucker born every minute.

Wouldn’t an NDA like that be illegal?
Unpaid intern or fellow or whatever means that the person is getting no consideration.

    Tom Servo in reply to RodFC. | July 27, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    I don’t think it’s “illegal”, I do think it’s unenforceable. What happens if someone violates it? They won’t be paid anymore for the work they weren’t being paid for anyway.

    Unpaid interns are viable as long as there are a lot of “true believers” who can be conned into doing the work. But sooner or later it always turns into “they pretend to pay me, I pretend to work.”

    My favorite unpaid intern story will always be the unnamed unpaid intern at the AP who, after a crash of a Chinese Airliner in San Francisco, sent out an official looking announcement – and a couple of News Announcers read this out loud, without question, on the air, live – that the 3 crew members of the doomed airliner were “Sum Ting Wong, Wi Tu Lo, and Ho Lee Fuk”.

    yeah he got fired that night but I bet he’s still laughing.

      Another Voice in reply to Tom Servo. | July 27, 2019 at 1:35 pm

      To Point: “Ya get what ya pay for”

      JOHN B in reply to Tom Servo. | July 27, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Obviously, they should be unenforceable.

      But too many courts these days have no conscience when it comes to supporting the evil progressives.

      She will have at least one judge who will rule in her favor and she will use that ruling to get injunctive relief to destroy the lives of her unpaid interns.

      Barry in reply to Tom Servo. | July 27, 2019 at 9:23 pm

      “after a crash of a Chinese Airliner”

      All Chinese airlines crash eventually.

      But I believe you meant a South Korean airliner…

      jhn1 in reply to Tom Servo. | July 31, 2019 at 10:00 pm

      Many years ago I understood outside governmental security agreements, the NonDisclosureAgreements were financially valued in relation to what you were paid to not disclose. Companies who want an enforceable agreement pay the recipients for that, frequently an annual agreement renewed in December and treated by the receiver as a Christmas Bonus (even ‘tho it is not). (IIRC significant cash Christmas bonuses are not OK per IRS for employees hired after some date in 1976) Now that there is a dollar value to you keeping secrets, there is a starting point to a lawsuit.
      Like the man said, for an unpaid intern, or fellowship to evade the intern legal requirements, is likely absolutely unenforceable to any real extent but public shaming.

And who says that your average newscaster is an idiot?

I wonder what the “Airplane” version of the cockpit conversations would sound like. 😉

We too low! Huh? Something wrong! Huh? …

Warren is the same corrupt fraud she’s always been. She’d steal from her own Cherokee mother if she could.

Actually, the way to avoid having “minimum wage” laws make a hash of your labor market is to pay no wages at all. Of course if that’s the only way to get socialism to work (sorry, that should be “work”), it would be nice if voters realized that.

Lizzie Warren took an ax and gave the truth 40 whacks.
When she saw what she had done, she gave it another 41.

southern commenter | July 27, 2019 at 4:44 pm

I wish I could smack the crap out of this lying biotch!