The first debate between Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren was riddled with racial undertones and cheap shots from Brown on Warren's heritage among other things. The following week, a video of Brown's staffers was released showing them making tomahawk gestures and yelping like Injuns from an old episode of F-Troop with the Hekawis. Brown isn't the only member of the GOP to stoop to racially charged innuendos however. Apparently, Romney campaign staffers are having a good ole time having their friends and family spread a video of "Obama Phone" on social media. This is another bogus swipe that reeks of desperation and can be easily refuted in less than ten minutes with a Google search.
The second Brown Warren debate on Monday was no different. Brown, rather than answering questions about relevant issues, is apparently still more interested in making stuff up, getting booed by the crowd, and making snotty condescending remarks, such as "I'm not in your classroom," paraphrasing a line he'd used on Martha Coakley two years ago. Not surprisingly, Brown came away from the debate proving that he feels strongly both ways on many issues.
After the commercial break, Brown stepped out of his pickup up truck, wearing his still stiff-off-the-rack Carhartt barn coat, and into a steaming pile of dung when moderator David Gregory asked him to name his ideal Supreme Court Judge. "Scalia", he answered, sparking a wave of boos from the audience. Scalia is widely considered among the top two most conservative justices on the bench - the same judge who said he was "adamantly opposed" to Roe v. Wade, opposes equal protection for women, and even opposes the right to contraception -so much for Brown being a big fan of women's rights. He then rattled off Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, and Sotomayor, in much the same way he rhythmically rattles off every conceivable form of energy when the conversation turns to oil - much like grade school children rehearsing their multiplication tables.
Brown also managed to squeeze in a slightly grandiose comment that "[he's] the only one in this race fighting for unions. Why then, did Harold Schaitberger, the president of the International Association of Firefighters announce that both the local and national firefighters unions were endorsing Warren?
We don't give out our endorsements easily," Schaitberg said. "And we don't need her opponent, who may look good in his jacket and his blue jeans and his truck, and who wants to be a regular Joe, but who votes against working-class people.
One issue that didn't come up during the debate, but has seen considerable traffic on the internet and the blogs, is Scott Brown's ties to the mortgage industry and what role he may have played in the mortgage meltdown.
During an interview, Scott Brown made the following comment about his past business:
I am a real estate attorney. I have a very small practice," Sen. Brown, (R-Mass.) told reporters Thursday afternoon. "The last seven or eight, nine years, it was run out of my home, and the clients that I represent are small banks, cooperative banks and a couple mortgage companies, focusing as one of their attorneys on real estate. I go to people's houses, I do real estate closings, and as a title agent: Fidelity National and First American. So those banks are Wrentham Cooperative Bank, Hyde Park Cooperative Bank, Middlesex Savings Bank, and a couple of smaller mortgage companies -- some of them are no longer in business.
What's particularly interesting about that statement is that Fidelity National is the former parent of LPS, which owned DocX, the document forgery firm featured on 60 Minutes and home of the Robosigning scandal. LPS is under a consent order with the Federal Reserve Board for its servicing activities, and DocX was criminally indicted by the state of Missouri. Brown was doing work for Fidelity National when it still owned LPS.
So if Brown knew what Fidelity National was up to and how it could potentially adversely affect homeowners, did he have an ethical responsibility to notify his clients? And does that speak equally to his character in the same way he relentlessly questions Warren?
Adam Levitin, Professor of Law at Georgetown Law first asked the question last week:
It's not clear exactly what Brown was doing for these clients--title work sounds innocent and boring enough, and Brown certainly isn't responsible for all of his clients' misdeeds. But at the very least, Brown's association raises a host of questions. Who were those "mortgage companies" that he worked for? It's nice that Brown named a bunch of local banks, but I wonder what lies under the "mortgage company" label? What did Scott Brown understand about the mortgage market he was facilitating? Did he recognize that there was a bubble? (He was a town property assessor at one point, so one would think he'd notice this sort of thing.) If not, what does that say? And if so, what does that say? How many predatory loans did Scott Brown facilitate? How many of the loans where he handled the closing resulted in foreclosure? What would he say to those families that lost their homes to predatory loans?
Brown's response to questions about this could very well be, "I was just doing paperwork for people," which would shoot holes in all his talk about being a real lawyer in real court rooms. As Levitin points out in the same post, "That's not good enough. Either Brown was so inept that he didn't see that the loans he was closing were becoming untenable or Brown saw the problem and didn't do anything."
Several blogs picked up on Levetin's post: David Dayen from Firedog Lake, Joan McCarter of Daily Kos, Mike Lux of HuffPo, and even Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism who claims to avoid politics couldn't resist re-posting the majority of Levitin's piece.
The simple question is: If Scott Brown is going to question Elizabeth Warren's character based on whether or not she checked a box on a job application 20 years ago, doesn't it stand to reason that his character be questioned for helping mortgage companies railroad homeowners into toxic and exploding mortgages?