Scott Brown’s terrible, horrible, no good, very bad week
Once upon a time, Scott Brown was riding high. He rocketed from backbencher within a Massachusetts state Senate Republican caucus that could convene in a phone booth to national political superstar. He was the barn-coat-clad man-of-the-people who delivered a whupping to those pointy-headed Bay State Democrats by stealing Ted Kennedy’s seat right out from under them. (Before Elizabeth Warren stole it back two years later.)
There was probably always a lot less to Brown than meets the eye, but last week it felt like the wheels were coming off the pickup truck.
Brown’s dalliance with a flim-flamy penny stock outfit that operates out of a made-up office address in Florida has provided all the grist some Bay State watchers needed to mill former Sen. McDreamy into powder in a way they have been dying to do.
Sunday’s papers delivered a brutal one-two punch, with the Globe‘s Joan Vennochi and the Herald‘s Peter Gelzinis both going hard at the one-time Massachusetts senator who is now trying his fortunes north of the border in New Hampshire, where he is challenging US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen.
The story, first reported by the Globe last weekend, centers on Brown’s appointment — complete with stock that was at the time worth $1.3 million — to the advisory board of a 19-year-old Florida firm that has no products, patents, or manufacturing facilities. Global Digital Solutions doesn’t even have an actual office, with filings indicating that it rents “virtual office” space in a West Palm Beach building for $299 a month.
After a few days of heat over his involvement in what business analysts called, at best, a very high-risk venture, Brown resigned his role on Wednesday and said he was relinquishing all of his stock, whose value had declined by more than half since his appointment last September.
Vennochi writes that the episode illustrates “Brown’s problem with matters of substance.” She suggests the “personal magic” attached to him following his 2010 upset victory over Martha Coakley may have been “more of a media-generated mirage.” She lays out a few of the breadcrumbs along the path to that conclusion, including a brutal anecdote from former treasury secretary Tim Geithner‘s new memoir in which he recounts a conversation with Brown about a financial reform measure the administration was pursuing. Geithner says Brown expressed general support but said he needed to make sure the proposed changes didn’t adversely affect two Massachusetts firms — and then turned to an aide and reportedly asked, “Which ones are they, again?”
The problem with Brown’s involvement in the dodgy-looking Florida firm is that it feeds the narrative that he is, as Vennochi writes, “a New England variation of ‘all hat, no cattle’ – all truck and barn coat, no gravitas.”
Or as Globe business columnist Shirley Leung wrote last week, in fitting parallel with the shaky company he signed up with, one could argue that Brown is “the political version of a penny stock with his get-elected-quick schemes that come complete with barn coat and truck, or a Hail Mary move to New Hampshire.”
After his week of woe, Brown may need to redouble his efforts if he hopes to get the Granite State’s notoriously tough voters to put him in the “buy” column.
The Senate passes a measure banning the sale of synthetic marijuana, a chemical-laced herb mixture that critics say is more dangerous than the real thing, the Salem News reports.
Lowell officials raise concerns about legal costs defending the city against discrimination claims, the Sun reports.
MGM Resorts awaits a final decision on its proposed casino in Springfield, the Associated Press reports.
When the United States leaves Afghanistan, billions of dollars of used military equipment will be left in the country that has a history of foreign invasion.
New York magazine argues that, with employment at pre-recession levels and tough new power plant emissions rules in the works, President Obama has done everything he promised to do in his first inaugural address.
The upcoming state Democratic convention will be a big test for Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Associated Press reports. The Herald, meanwhile, talks up Coakley’s effort to downplay the convention.
Buddy Cianci says he is leaning toward running for mayor of Providence again despite his stint in prison, the Associated Press reports.
The Hillary Clinton book tour/campaign warmup kicks off.
Five students graduate from Phoenix Academy Lawrence, a public high school that caters to people who have previously dropped out of school. The five all plan to attend Northern Essex Community College, the Eagle-Tribune reports.
A 460-page report from the Council on State Governments Justice Center makes recommendations for schools to alter their”zero tolerance” discipline policies that disproportionately affect already at-risk populations.
Two more states, Oklahoma and South Carolina, pull out of the Common Core, the Washington Post reports.
In an editorial, the Globe gives a thumbs-up to Attorney General Martha Coakley’s controversial settlement with Partners HealthCare.
In contrast to the problems besetting it nationally, the VA health care system in Massachusetts gets high marks, though this is in part because more veterans here have private insurance that lets them get care outside the VA system, which relieves the state’s VA hospitals of the crushing caseloads that have overwhelmed the system elsewhere.
The Globe reports that bus companies nationwide, including some in Massachusetts, often operate for years without undergoing a full federal safety review.
Cape Cod fishermen argue that federal fisheries disaster money from the federal government is not being paid out equitably.
A proposed natural gas pipeline that would wind through Massachusetts communities is bringing hope for cheaper energy costs but stirring opposition in the roughly 45 communities it would pass through.
The Wall Street Journal reports Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is micromanaging the search for a new federal energy regulator, with an eye toward boosting renewable energy companies in his home state of Nevada.
A former judge who served on a Probationhiring panel for the Middlesex juvenile court said the process was a sham and told her chief justice to never make her do that again, CommonWealth reports.
Local attorneys and the family of two women killed in a Plymouth car accident with an off-duty state trooper who was allegedly drunk say the case shows the disparity in treatment between citizens and cops.
Williams College grapples with the aftermath of a rape case, and The Berkshire Eagle praises the woman who came forward with her story.
MEDIATime Warner prepares to spin off Time Inc. and the magazine company’s new chief is preparing to cut editorial expenses by 25 percent, the New York Times reports.