by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), sometimes referred to as “Pocahontas,” has thrown her support behind a fellow Democrat with a similar history of education-related lies.
The controversial senator and failed presidential candidate this week endorsed Wisconsin lieutenant governor Mandela Barnes, who is running for Senate and is best known for lying about graduating from college. Warren is the highest-profile Democrat to weigh in on the Wisconsin Senate primary, which will determine who takes on incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) in 2022.
Nine months after his election as lieutenant governor in 2018, Barnes admitted to lying about his academic credentials. When the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interviewed him that year, Barnes said multiple times that he “finished” college in 2008. A subsequent profile stated that Barnes “graduated [from Alabama A&M University] with a degree in mass communications in 2008.”
Barnes made similar claims in interviews during the election with a variety of state media outlets. His campaign even promoted a Huntsville Times story headlined “Alabama A&M graduate becomes first black lieutenant governor of Wisconsin.”
It wasn’t until August 2019 that Barnes “voluntarily” disclosed his lie, telling a Madison newspaper that his claims to have graduated from college were false. “I had a class. I got an incomplete. I completed the coursework to get that incomplete resolved. It never got turned in,” Barnes said. “It’s a small technical thing.” He eventually finished his degree and received a diploma in May 2020.
If elected in 2022, Barnes will join an illustrious group of Democratic senators who have achieved political success despite their records of academic dishonesty. President Joe Biden, for example, has a long history of plagiarism. Warren, meanwhile, has falsely claimed to be an “American Indian” throughout her decades-long career as a law professor and was even touted as the “first woman of color” to teach at Harvard Law School. A DNA test revealed in 2018 that Warren was between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.