Scott Brown, the newly U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, confirmed that he had been investigated and cautioned by the State Department for remarks he made to women attending an official July event in Samoa, an independent nation that also falls under his purview.
According to the Guardian, the former Republican senator from Massachusetts had told several female attendees at the Peace Corps reception that they looked “beautiful” and could “make hundreds of dollars” in the U.S. hospitality industry.
Brown, an earlier supporter of President Donald Trump who was among his first ambassadorial appointees, said that he had “no idea” that people might object to his remarks. “Apparently someone took offense to that,” he said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Fine, I did say that.”
According to the New York Times, Brown said that he made the comments because he had observed people in the Samoan capital of Apia before the event who “were all dirty and grungy, and when we walked in, they were all dressed to the nines — they looked great.”
Following what he described as an “administrative investigation,” Brown said he was cautioned by State Department officials. “I was told by my people, ‘Look, you’re not Scott Brown from Rye, New Hampshire, anymore. You’re an ambassador.'”
“We are in a different culture, even though we all speak English,” he added. “Sometimes when we say one thing, it means the complete different — whether it’s here in New Zealand or in Samoa.”
Brown, who pulled off a surprise upset in 2010 to fill the Senate seat long held by Ted Kennedy, lost in 2012 to Democrat Elizabeth Warren. He also lost a 2014 bid to become a senator from Massachusetts neighbor New Hampshire.
At his press conference accompanied by this wife, Gail Huff, Brown suggested that politics played a role in the complaints that triggered the inquiry. “Politics is a blood sport back home,” he said, adding that “plenty of people who didn’t like” President Trump had attended the event in Samoa.