Mass. Democrats file ethics complaint against Scott Brown over half-court shot video

The Massachusetts Democratic Party today filed a complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee, arguing that Senator Scott Brown abused public resources by using video shot by a government employee to promote his reelection campaign.

The Globe reported last week that the video—of Brown sinking an underhanded, half-court basketball shot—was recorded by his Senate communications director, during an official event, and after that employee had flown to and from Massachusetts on an airline ticket bought by the taxpayers.

A day later, the Republican’s reelection campaign posted it to YouTube with the title, “Scott Brown’s Amazing Half-Court Shot.”

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

The staffer, Marcie Kinzel, said campaign lawyers had reviewed the circumstances and concluded it was allowable to use the video under ethics rules exceptions allowing some crossover between official and campaign activities.

“Neither Senator Brown nor the campaign has ever claimed (nor could it be claimed) that the video was recorded for any governmental purpose,” wrote John Walsh, chairman of the state party, in a letter to the committee’s chairwoman and vice chairman. “The benefit the campaign received from Ms. Kinzel’s actions is evident by the immediate posting of the video on the campaign’s website and its subsequent frequent use of and reference to it.”

Walsh added: “By permitting his official staff to engage in campaign related activity while serving in their official capacity, Senator Brown has failed in his responsibility to ensure that the interests of his campaign ‘do not conflict with or detract from official staff duties’ and acted in violation of federal law.”

Brown’s campaign spokesman, Colin Reed, responded today with an email attacking Elizabeth Warren, the Harvard Law School professor who is Brown’s likely reelection opponent.

“This complaint has about as much credibility as Elizabeth Warren’s claim to be a Native American, and it is a laughable and desperate attempt to distract from Warren’s refusal to come clean with voters,” said Reed. “Her campaign is flailing and appearing more pitiful by the day.”