A sorry state of affairs

Since he rose to unforeseen fame when he won “the People’s Seat” long held by the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, Scott Brown has been as much celebrity as politician, which lands him in the gossip columns as much as the political pages.

His willingness to show off his buff body going as far back as his college days when he nakedly graced the cover of Cosmo has saddled him with a label of being a lightweight, fairly or unfairly, depending on your political leaning.

But now Brown is being labeled as a sexual harasser and, other than his protests, he’s got no recourse to prove otherwise. Even some of his harshest critics are feeling sorry for him.

Brown has been caught up in the tempest of sexual harassment and discrimination charges flying out of Fox News. The latest is a suit filed by former anchor – and one-time aide to Gov. William WeldAndrea Tantaros who claims she was punished for refusing and then complaining about unwanted advances and lewd remarks from then-chairman Roger Ailes.

In her complaint, Tantaros drew a big circle around the whole Fox News guys-in-the-locker-room culture and roped in anchor Bill O’Reilly and Brown, among others. Tantaros said Brown, a paid Fox contributor, was a guest on her show “Outnumbered” and she claims he wanted more than just conversation.

“Brown made a number of sexually inappropriate comments to Tantaros on set, including, and in a suggestive manner, that Tantaros ‘would be fun to go to a nightclub with,’” she writes in her complaint. “After the show was over, Brown snuck up behind Tantaros while she was purchasing lunch and put his hands on her lower waist. She immediately pulled back, telling Brown to ‘stop.’” She said she complained to upper management and asked that Brown be kept off the show but nothing happened.

Brown engendered much sympathy and acclaim when he came out as a victim of sexual abuse from when he was a youth and that, he says, is his best defense against the allegations. “For somebody who’s a survivor of sexual abuse myself, I take these issues, in particular, very, very seriously, so I would’ve never helped perpetuate an environment or a conversation or a situation as she’s alleging because of my own personal experiences,” Brown told Boston Herald Radio.

Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, have vehemently denied the claims. but that’s pretty much all they can do. Because Tantaros’ suit is against Fox, Ailes, and several other network officials, Brown can’t file any kind of response unless he is deposed. Tantaros used Brown and O’Reilly to buttress her argument about the Fox culture, so those named but unsued parties can only wail against the wind.

It’s not unlike when prosecutors from the US Attorney’s office named House Speaker Robert DeLeo an unindicted co-conspirator in the Probation Department scandal. Once an allegation is in court papers that are forever memorialized online, it can never be taken back.

Brown also said he’s more than willing to testify under oath but, as a lawyer, the former senator knows the perils of that, especially if he undergoes a deposition that can go astray with no judge to rule a question out-of-bounds.

In the meantime, Brown is going to have to hope the mud being thrown on him washes off pretty easily and quickly. But Tantaros’ lawsuit has done one thing that may have been hard to contemplate before – drawn sympathy from some of those who previously gave him nothing but grief.

“Brown can’t even file a response to the complaint, since he’s not a defendant. And there’s something really unfair about that,” writes the Globe’s Joan Vennochi. “You don’t have to like Scott Brown or his politics to feel a little sorry for him.”

JACK SULLIVAN

BEACON HILL

Top officials at Access Northeast sent a letter to policymakers in New England saying they’re moving ahead with a natural gas pipeline into the region despite a Supreme Judicial Court ruling that undercut their financing scheme. The three officials from Spectra Energy, Eversource Energy, and National Grid didn’t explain how they would finance the pipeline, but said “a do nothing scenario is untenable.” (CommonWealth)

Gov. Charlie Baker signs into law a measure that protects rescuers of pets in distress in cases where they have to, say, break into a vehicle. (State House News)

Baker says the opioid crisis is at least party fueling the spike in caseloads at the Department of Children and Families. (Boston Herald)

State Sen. Jamie Eldridge, a liberal Acton Democrat, is trying to push his party to the left, including by encouraging challenges to incumbent Democratic lawmakers, a move that breaks with longstanding tradition and has angered some fellow Dems. (Boston Globe)

Child advocates and pediatricians are calling on state leaders to impose more oversight over state medical examiners, criticizing the current practice that allows individual examiners unilateral authority to issue — as well as revise — cause-of-death determinations. (Boston Globe)

The Globe reports on Sen. Brian Joyce’s denunciation of the paper’s story suggesting that he has enjoyed an improper property tax break and it says some of the disparity between the Milton town assessor’s description of his house and a real estate brochure promoting its sale is because finished basements and third-floor living areas are routinely not included as living space in assessments.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

Braintree Mayor Joseph Sullivan has hired an outside company to audit criminal evidence held by the police department and will turn the results over to the Norfolk District Attorney. Sullivan gave no reason for what spawned the action. (Patriot Ledger)

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans co-author an op-ed heralding the start of a police body camera pilot study and say it is just one part of the city’s progressive policing efforts. (Boston Globe) A Herald editorial decries the criticism the pilot program is getting from both the police union that has resisted cameras and community leaders who pushed for the program.

Unlike in Boston, where the effort has faced strong pushback from police unions, Methuen police have had a smooth rollout of body-worn cameras, with officers and the public generally positive about the initiative. (Boston Globe)

Former Boston city councilor John Tobin will oversee a city board that makes recommendations on compensation levels for his former colleagues. (Boston Herald)

Boston’s city council approved a grading system that will assign restaurants letter ratings — A, B, or C — based on the results of health inspections. (Boston Globe)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

The Securities and Exchange Commission censured Chelsea and 70 other communities in other states for failing to release required information to purchasers of municipal bonds. (Governing)

A Gloucester Times editorial blasts proposals to have the government buy excess cheese on the market to buttress prices.

ELECTIONS

Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson says the House should release the results of an ethics probe that drove former rep John Fresolo from office. Fresolo is trying to mount a controversial comeback for his old seat by running as a member of the United Independent Party.

Bernie Sanders pitches Our Revolution, his bid to build progressive support for candidates and causes around the nation. The live-stream event, targeting gatherings of supporters across the country, didn’t get rave reviews in Jamaica Plain. (WBUR)

The Associated Press reported this week on an alarming connections between who Hillary Clinton met with while secretary of state and donations to the Clinton Foundation. A Herald editorial calls it more evidence of Clinton’s “too-cozy relationships with big-time donors” to the foundation, but Matthew Yglesias has a pretty convincing piece for Vox that argues the AP report adds up to much ado about not very much.

As disastrous as Donald Trump’s campaign has been over the last month, a baggage-laden Clinton can’t seem to put the election away, says Eric Fehrnstrom. (Boston Globe)

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Three black women have filed a civil rights complaint with the state Attorney General’s office over what they say was racist treatment at a popular Martha’s Vineyard restaurant where President Obama and his family had dined two days earlier. (Cape Cod Times)

Howard Johnson restaurants, which got its start in Quincy more than 90 years ago, is down to one last restaurant after a HoJo in Bangor, Maine, announced it will close for good on Labor Day weekend. (Patriot Ledger)

EDUCATION

Lowell schools join forces with other city agencies to combat chronic absenteeism. (Lowell Sun)

Embattled Framingham School Superintendent Stacy Scott, who has been a finalist for three other superintendents jobs in the past year but picked for none, has taken a “long-term leave of absence” from his job. (MetroWest Daily News)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

The Marion Board of Health is set to join less than a handful of communities in the country that have banned menthol cigarettes. Members of the board said they would support a town-wide prohibition on the sale of all flavored cigarettes even if it means being sued by tobacco companies. (Standard-Times)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Scituate officials have urged residents to drastically cut back on water use, including taking showers, because of the town reservoir’s dangerously low water level, which was brought about by this summer’s drought. (Patriot Ledger)

One silver lining of the drought is the decrease in the number of deer ticks and the potential in a reduction for Lyme disease. (Associated Press)

North Andover is planning to aggregate all its residents together to negotiate better rates for electricity with power suppliers. (Eagle-Tribune)

CASINOS

The Justice Department asks US District Court Judge William Young to reconsider his decision rejecting a bid by the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to take land into trust for a casino in Taunton. (State House News)

The Springfield Historical Commission has put a hold on plans to demolish a building to make way for construction of a hotel across the street from the city’s casino project. (Masslive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

A Berkshire Eagle editorial, citing the case of a Great Barrington police officer who was not charged, says all operating under the influence cases should be treated the same.

Suffolk District Attorney Dan Conley rules that the 2015 killing by police of a terrorism suspect wielding a knife in a Roslindale parking lot was justifiable. (Boston Herald)

Holyoke police take a man into custody after seizing 2,600 bags of heroin and $13,000 in cash. (Masslive)

MEDIA

The New York Times takes a fascinating in-depth look at how Facebook has risen to the top of the news provider food chain.
Sports Illustrated and Fox News are teaming up to take on ESPN.