Scott Brown is getting hit in New Hampshire with a quarter-million-dollar ad buy for working behind the scenes against a bipartisan energy conservation measure, which had been backed by his Democratic opponent, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, and her Republican counterpart Kelly Ayotte.
Brown, a former Massachusetts senator, is challenging Shaheen for her seat, and made calls to fellow Republicans about the bill before the vote. In those phone calls, he shared "the same position he's stated publicly," his campaign spokeswoman Elizabeth Guyton told the Concord Monitor, confirming previous reports in The Huffington Post.
Brown's public position has been that he opposed moving forward on the Shaheen bill because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) would not allow an amendment to approve the Keystone XL pipeline. Reid instead offered a standalone vote on the pipeline.
Guyton said that Brown's outreach "wasn't lobbying." Norm Ornstein, a congressional scholar with the conservative American Enterprise Institute, told the Washington Post that such hair-splitting obscures the reality that there are "many communications that individuals have with lawmakers and staff that by any reasonable or logical standard are lobbying."
Ornstein went on. "There is one compelling explanation: he wanted them to quash the bill to keep Jeanne Shaheen from having a legislative victory," he said. "The fact that he repeated to them a public position face-to-face has little to do with it. He wanted them to kill the bill. By my standards, that is lobbying plain and simple."
Despite his campaign's denial of "lobbying," Senate Majority PAC, a super PAC supporting Democratic Senate candidates, is sticking with the terminology. The group has launched a $224,000-plus ad buy attacking Brown over his efforts to prevent the bill's passage.
The NH Journal reported Thursday that the ad will run on local TV station WMUR, New England Cable News and Comcast Sports NE.
“A rare moment in Congress," the ad's script reads. "A bipartisan bill readies for passage in the Senate. Jeanne Shaheen’s energy efficiency bill to create jobs and save billions supported by businesses across New Hampshire. But news accounts report that Massachusetts senator Scott Brown lobbied Republican leaders to kill the bill — hurting Shaheen and helping himself gain another Senate seat. Scott Brown just moved to New Hampshire and he’s already acting like his job is more important than yours."
HuffPost readers: If you're a New Hampshire resident and have seen the ad, please send a copy to firstname.lastname@example.org
Immediately after the bill failed, the New Hampshire GOP issued a statement saying that its demise was proof of Shaheen's ineffectiveness. "Senator Shaheen has called the Shaheen-Portman Energy Efficiency Bill her 'defining' legislation. But after its defeat, Senator Shaheen doesn't have a single legislative accomplishment to run on as she seeks re-election. It's time to end Jeanne Shaheen's failed tenure in the Senate and replace her with a responsible Republican who can get results for New Hampshire," read the statement.
Although the Shaheen-Portman bill had 14 initial cosponsors, including seven Republicans, just three GOP senators voted to end debate and move the bill forward.
Ayotte told Huffpost she voted to advance the bill despite a call from Brown.
"I just did what I thought was best based on my state and voted the way I thought I should," Ayotte said, adding that she "wasn’t lobbied." Guyton, however, confirmed to The Concord Monitor that Brown had expressed his concerns to Republican senators about moving forward on the bill absent a Keystone amendment.
"I told him what my position was. He didn’t push me on that or anything," Ayotte told HuffPost.
The Senate Majority PAC ran an ad criticizing Brown's ties to Wall Street in January, before he had even announced his candidacy.
Brown has been asked about the energy lobbying on the campaign trail, and offered an alibi at a recent campaign event. "Apparently while I’m driving my truck through New Hampshire I, apparently, derailed a bill in Washington," he said in WMUR's Monday report. "I have this amazing power, I guess."
A WMUR reporter followed up by asking if Brown "actively advocated" against the passage of Shaheen's bill. "No, I didn't," he said. "And I find it actually sad in Washington when there are failures they look outside themselves and try to blame other people for this."
The New Hampshire GOP, meanwhile, has blamed The Huffington Post for all this.
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