When Senate Republicans killed a bipartisan energy-efficiency bill last week, something didn’t smell right. It was an uncontroversial proposal, filled with modest provisions – making it easier for consumers to buy “smart metered” water heaters, for example – that had already passed the Republican-led House. What prompted GOP senators to kill a bill they liked?
Some of this, no doubt, was related to the political fight over the Keystone XL pipeline, but the story took a turn when the Huffington Postdiscovered that former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) personally reached out to many of his former colleagues, lobbying them to oppose the bill co-sponsored by his new rival, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
Yesterday, Brown responded to the news by parsing the meaning of the word “lobbying” – and talking about his truck.
Scott Brown says that while he talked to Republican senators about the failed Shaheen-Portman energy bill, he was NOT lobbying them to thwart a legislative win for his opponent, Jeanne Shaheen, as HuffPost Hill first reported. By the way, did you know that Scott Brown drives a truck?
“Apparently while I’m driving my truck through New Hampshire, I, apparently, derailed a bill in Washington,” he said in local TV station WMUR’s Monday report. “I have this amazing power, I guess.”
First, he’s not just driving his truck through New Hampshire. Brown’s also jetting off to Las Vegas, appearing last week at a hedge-fund event, “sipping beer and wine at the conference’s poolside masquerade party,” not far from “a French clown on a pogo stick.”
Second, Brown’s campaign insists the former senator “wasn’t lobbying” when he called senators directly to urge them to oppose the bill. Erik Wemple asked Norm Ornstein to shed some additional light on the subject.
Technicalities aside, Ornstein noted that there are “many communications that individuals have with lawmakers and staff that by any reasonable or logical standard are lobbying.” Further, Ornstein wondered aloud why Brown would confer with Republican senators on such a bill.
“There is one compelling explanation: he wanted them to quash the bill to keep Jean Shaheen from having a legislative victory,” notes Ornstein. “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.”
Is it any wonder why Scott Brown’s campaign is struggling so badly?