WASHINGTON -- Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) is paying tens of thousands of dollars to campaign consultants and fundraisers with histories of playing hardball, a review of the senator's federal election filing reveals.
Brown is gearing up for a 2012 Senate contest against former consumer financial watchdog Elizabeth Warren, who has quickly equaled the incumbent in polling and surpassed him in fundraising power. Last quarter he raised just under $1.5 million, compared with more than $3 million by Warren, who began her campaign partway through the filing period. Brown still has a large edge in cash on hand, with $10.5 million in the bank.
But the Warren surge may explain why Brown is spending money on consultants who practice a bareknuckle brand of politics.
The biggest payout involved more than $46,000 to the robocall firm FLS Connect. That company was linked to a smear campaign on behalf of George W. Bush against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2000. It was also tied to calls on behalf of McCain connecting Barack Obama to terrorists in 2008.
The firm is listed as a fundraising consultant.
Brown's election filing also shows that he's been generous to a pair of consultants linked to cheap shots in the current campaign, even though Brown has said he will not accept such tactics. His campaign has paid more than $35,000 to Eric Fehrnstrom and his firm Shawmut Group, and another $12,000 to Willington Media, the firm of consultant Rob Willington.
It was Willington who registered the domain name CrazyKhazei.com, presumably to mock potential Brown Democratic challenger Alan Khazei. He has also set up the domain name Queen Elizabeth Warren.
Fehrnstrom was recently revealed as the person behind a CrazyKhazei Twitter account that pretended to come from the social entrepreneur and mocked his manliness compared to that of Brown.
When Fehrnstrom was identified, Brown declared on Aug. 26 that he did not approve and "made clear to everyone on or associated with my team that this type of thing is not to happen again."
Fehrnstrom's Shawmut Group had received two payments of $10,000 each for work in July and August. Six days after the revelation of Fehrnstrom's tweets, the firm received a $15,000 payment, marking an apparent $5,000 raise.
Brown spokesman Colin Reed did not immediately answer a request for comment.