Thursday, October 26, 2017

Scott Brown: US ambassador to New Zealand investigated over inappropriate comments

Eleanor Ainge Roy,; via PK on Faceook 

Image from article, with caption: Scott Brown, the US ambassador to New Zealand, has confirmed that he is the subject of an inquiry by the US state department into allegations made against him on a trip to Samoa.

The US ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown has admitted he has been investigated over allegations he made inappropriate comments on his inaugural trip to Samoa, of which he is also the US representative.

Brown told New Zealand media on Wednesday he wanted to address “innuendo and rumour” about his visit to Samoa in July to celebrate 50 years of the peace corps in the country.

Brown – speaking with his wife, Gail Huff, by his side – confirmed he was the subject of an official administration inquiry by the US state department, which sent investigators to Wellington to look into what took place on the trip.

Brown said the official complaints related to comments he had made at a party in the Samoan capital, Apia, where he told attendees they looked “beautiful” and could make hundreds of dollars working in the hospitality industry in the US. Brown and Huff said they had “no idea” the comments would be regarded as offensive.

“I was told by my people that you’re not Scott Brown from New Hampshire any more, you’re an ambassador, and you have to be culturally aware of different cultures and sensitivities,” Brown said.

“We are in a different culture: even though we all speak English, sometimes when we say one thing it means the complete different thing.”

Brown went on to say “politics is a blood sport” and there were a lot of people at the event who did not like US president Donald Trump. Brown was Trump’s first ambassadorial appointment after he took office.

Huff said the “takeaway” from the incident was: “We are going to be very, very careful about we say and how it’s perceived.”

The Guardian understands that complaints against Brown came from two serving female members of the peace corps.

The Guardian first contacted the US state department in Washington, the US embassy in Wellington and the US high commission in Samoa in August, requesting details of the ambassador’s trip to Samoa and comment on the complaints. All requests have gone unanswered.

On Wednesday a spokesperson for the US embassy in Wellington said: “Ambassador Brown has nothing to add to the comments he made in this afternoon’s interview.”

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