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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Scott Brown’s Rose Garden strategy

Telegraph Editorial

Back in April, Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced his “Obamacare Isn’t Working Tour,” which followed closely on the heels of his “Main Streets and Living Rooms Tour.” That last one took him to all 10 New Hampshire counties as a run-up to his announcement that he would seek the New Hampshire seat in the U.S. Senate now held by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Brown this week announced his “Making Energy Affordable Tour.” ...

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Back in April, Scott Brown, the former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, announced his “Obamacare Isn’t Working Tour,” which followed closely on the heels of his “Main Streets and Living Rooms Tour.” That last one took him to all 10 New Hampshire counties as a run-up to his announcement that he would seek the New Hampshire seat in the U.S. Senate now held by Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.

Brown this week announced his “Making Energy Affordable Tour.”

That’s all well and good, but it’s time Brown started his “The Public is Entitled to Some Answers Tour.”

Brown was in Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago to speak to a group of hedge fund managers. His campaign admits he was paid for the speech, but refuses to say how much. They say it will all be disclosed in accordance with campaign finance rules.

This from the candidate who sought and received permission to delay his financial disclosure statement until August, just a month before the primary election. Most of the other candidates have already released theirs.

New Hampshire voters deserve to know how much Brown was paid for his appearance at the Bellagio gathering, and they deserve to be told now, for two reasons: First, to give Republicans who might be weighing Brown’s candidacy against others in the primary field the opportunity to properly evaluate which big-money interests Brown might be beholden to, and just how deeply. That is an issue that could have some bearing on whether Brown can beat Shaheen in a general election, and the sooner it gets put out there, the better for voters trying to make up their minds.

The other reason Brown should come clean right away on how much he was paid to speak at the hedge-fund conference is to eliminate the appearance that he is hiding something.

Unless, of course, he is.

That was one conclusion that might be drawn from an article in the Boston Sunday Globe about Brown’s relationship with a Florida company that gave Brown stock worth $1.3 million in exchange for the former senator agreeing to sit on the company’s advisory board. The company started out in New Jersey as a beauty supply company, reinvented itself as a communications operation in California, and then decided last year that it was in the firearms business.

Except it has no operations, no revenue and nothing, it seems, but stockholders and a website, according to the Globe story. A Globe reporter who went to the Florida address listed by Global Digital Solutions found a receptionist fronting what appeared to be a “virtual office” operation that provides addresses for companies in need of the corporate equivalent of an alibi.

Brown refused to answer questions about the company when asked about it in person over the weekend, and referred a Globe reporter to a flimsy statement his campaign issued Friday.

The problem with the Brown campaign is that the candidate wants to be treated like the presumptive nominee without answering hard questions or giving people the opportunity to compare him with the other Republicans in the race. Brown begged out of a June 18 debate in Merrimack with other GOP candidates, citing a scheduling conflict, though his campaign this week requested to meet with The Telegraph’s editorial board on that very morning. (We were unable to accommodate the request, but have given Brown’s staff several other dates.)

Brown is employing the old Rose Garden strategy used for decades by incumbent presidents to hide from opponents. Except not only is Brown not the incumbent, but the longer he evades the other candidates – Karen Testerman, Jim Rubens and Bob Smith, to name three – and keeps his finances secret, the more his candidacy seems as vacant as the company on whose advisory board he sits.