Elizabeth Warren, a Harvard law professor who helped create the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, has enlisted the help of two top Massachusetts Democratic operatives, a sign that she is closer than ever to entering the race to challenge popular Republican Sen. Scott Brown. But Republicans quickly fired back at the news, pointing to the operatives’ lobbying connections.

Two aides instrumental in Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s campaign and administration are assisting Warren’s exploratory effort: Doug Rubin, a prominent strategist and Patrick’s former campaign manager, and Kyle Sullivan, the governor’s former communications director and a former John Kerry staffer. He also worked on Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Rubin founded the consulting firm Northwind Strategies and is a registered lobbyist. Sullivan is not a lobbyist but is employed by the firm as a consultant.

“It’s ironic that a so-called consumer champion like Professor Warren is already taking her marching orders from two well-connected Beacon Hill lobbyists,” Jennifer Nassour, chairman of the Massachusetts Republican Party, said in a statement Friday. “All her rhetoric about standing up for consumers and fighting the special interests rings hollow when the first two people she turns to for advice are insiders paid to lobby on behalf of the gambling industry.”

Rubin maintained that only a “limited” part of his lobbying has to do with public policy advocacy, according to a statement provided to RCP and other news outlets.

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