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Female guest at Samoa event says Scott Brown stared at her chest

Scott Brown, shown at the US Embassy in New Zealand in July.Nick Perry/AP

There may be more to the complaints about Scott Brown’s behavior during a visit to Samoa than a simple misunderstanding.

The Guardian has spoken to more than a dozen people who were at a party attended by Brown and his wife, Gail Huff, during a July visit to the Samoan capital of Apia, and words like “shocking,” “culturally insensitive,” “rude,” and “undiplomatic” are being used to describe Brown’s behavior.

One woman, who would not agree to be identified, told the Guardian that Brown, the US ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, stared at her body when she was introduced to him. “The first time I met him, he looked at my chest immediately,” the woman said, adding that a female colleague had a similar experience.


“I felt immediately uncomfortable and it didn’t feel right,” she said.

Another guest, a male former Peace Corps volunteer, said Brown shouted at guests to be quiet so that he could speak.

“It was very culturally insensitive,” said the former Peace Corps member, who also didn’t want to be named. “[Brown] just did multiple things in 15 seconds that really put me off, and looking around [I] saw it put off a lot of other people as well.”

Another male guest said Brown was strident.

“A lot of people were really upset by the tone of his speech,” the guest said. “He was rudely shouting everyone down. After the speech, I was so put off I didn’t approach him. I wanted no personal contact with him.”

The State Department’s inspector general has said it investigated complaints that Brown made inappropriate comments during his visit to Samoa. And Brown has confirmed he was the subject of a State Department probe for telling women at the party they were “beautiful” and could make “hundreds of dollars” in the hospitality industry in United States.


“Even though we all speak English, sometimes, you know, when we say one thing, it means the complete different whether it’s here in New Zealand or it’s in Samoa or other countries,” Brown has said. “I was told by my people, listen, you’re not Scott Brown from . . . New Hampshire anymore, you’re an ambassador and you always have to be aware, culturally aware, of different cultures, different sensitivities. . . . I’m always welcoming that kind of good advice.”

Reached Thursday, Janine Burns, spokeswoman for the US Embassy in New Zealand, said Brown had nothing to add.

“The State Department takes allegations of misconduct seriously and we investigate them thoroughly,” she said in an e-mail. “We hold all employees to the highest standard. The Office of Inspector General conducted an independent review of the allegations and reported its findings to the Department. Senior leadership at the State Department has been in contact with Ambassador Brown and he has been counseled on standards of conduct for government employees, which also includes Ambassadors. Ambassador Brown welcomes this advice.”