Former Senator Scott Brown's Staff Sends Larry Lessig A Letter Demanding He Stop Referring To Brown As A 'Lobbyist'
from the stop-using-the-truth-to-smear-our-candidate! dept
Larry Lessig’s new SuperPAC must be making a few people in Washington nervous. That’s the only thing that could explain former Sen. Scott Brown’s office sending a little hate mail demanding an apology for calling the former politician a “lobbyist.” [PDF link]
Sent by Colin Reed, the campaign manager for New Hampshire for Scott Brown, the letter opens this way and doesn’t let up.
Your MAYDAY Super PAC has issued a piece of mail to New Hampshire voters falsely calling Scott Brown a ‘Washington lobbyist.’ This is a flat-out lie.
Scott Brown is not nor has he ever been a lobbyist. Ever. We call on you to immediately cease and desist with the mailer in question, and to use one of your various media appearances as a purported authority on ethics to retract your falsehood.
As Lessig points out, Brown not being a lobbyist largely depends on what a normal person would think a lobbyist is. He quotes The Hill, which details Brown’s post-Senate employment.
I take it Mr. Reed’s outrage is triggered by the Senate’s regulations of what constitutes being a “lobbyist” for purposes of the Senate rules. I hadn’t received the memo that explained that the English language is now regulated by the rules of the United States Senate. If there is such a memo, they should send it to The Hill too. Here are a few snippets of what they reported last March:
Brown has joined Nixon Peabody, a law and lobby firm, as counsel in the firm’s Boston office. The Massachusetts Republican, also a former state senator, will concentrate his practice on “business and governmental affairs as they relate to the financial services industry as well as on commercial real estate matters,” according to the firm.
Nixon Peabody has a burgeoning K Street practice, having made more than $1.5 million in lobbying fees for all of 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics…
So yes, according to the Senate, Scott Brown isn’t a “lobbyist.” But I submit to anyone else in the world, a former Senator joining a “law and lobbying firm” to help with Wall St’s “business and governmental affairs” is to make him a lobbyist. Because to anyone else in the world, when you sell your influence to affect “business and governmental affairs,” you are a lobbyist.
Other news sources agree. Brown now holds the position of “counsel” in a lobbying firm. This may not exactly make him a lobbyist but it certainly makes him more lobbyist than “counsel.” The only thing likely preventing Brown from retaining the title of ‘lobbyist’ are rules meant to keep this sort of revolving-door behavior from being so blatant and prevalent.
The Boston Globe noted Monday that while Brown himself will not be a lobbyist — Senators may not lobby their former colleagues for the first two years after leaving office, under the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007 — “he will be leaning heavily on his Washington contacts to drum up business for the firm.” The position will also allow him “to begin cashing in on his contacts with the financial services industry, which he helped oversee in the Senate.”
So, not technically a lobbyist but as close to a lobbyist as one can get. The overblown letter also calls into question Lessig’s “Harvard code of conduct” and hilariously refers to the Mayday SuperPAC’s letter as evidence of Lessig’s “partisan political agenda” — apparently unaware of the fact that Lessig is backing a Republican candidate against Brown in the upcoming New Hampshire election.
The letter wraps up with the following threat:
If you fail to immediately cease the mailer in question, we are leaving all our legal options on the table.
Lessig has responded to this angry letter in three ways, all of which suggest a dearth of respect for Scott Brown or his purported legal representation. First, there’s the last line of his blog post about the letter:
And finally, as for those “legal options” that Mr. Reed says he’s “leaving on the table,” let me offer the words of Harry Callahan: “Go ahead. Make my day.”
And this tweet.
Yea, an institution that calls ketchup a vegetable doesn't get to tell me how to speak English. http://t.co/mjBTc4bNP0
— Lessig (@lessig) September 7, 2014
If you can’t read the tweet, it says:
Yea, an institution that calls ketchup a vegetable doesn’t get to tell me how to speak English.
And, finally, Lessig did, in fact, change Mayday’s ad as follows. The top one is the original ad, the bottom one is the “new” ad: