Scott Brown: Encouraging the Base by Discouraging the Vote, Take Two

If you’re surprised that Scott Brown has jumped on the state’s compliance with the federal Motor Voter law as an opportunity to stir his base, don’t be. He apparently believes that any effort to help the disenfranchised exercise their rights to the franchise is offensive to his supporters, and his campaign welcomes their energetic resentment.

Three years ago, just after he and Martha Coakley had become their parties’ nominees for the special Senate election, James O’Keefe and Andrew Breitbart released a videotape doctored to create the appearance that employees of ACORN (long a conservative target for its voter outreach efforts among the poor) were advising a pimp and a prostitute how to cheat on their taxes and to run a brothel. Brown immediately sought to link the controversy to Coakley. He fired off a letter to her and to Deval Patrick (Globe $) requesting them to rescind a $33,000 grant ACORN had received to counsel first-time homebuyers and homeowners facing possible foreclosure. (A law that Brown had voted for required that all homebuyers looking for a subprime adjustable-rate mortgage get financial counseling first.) Brown asked that ACORN be suspended “until all the allegations…have been investigated and satisfactorily resolved.” “I hope you agree, he added, “that this situation warrants a stern and immediate response.”

Brown spokesperson Eric Fehrnstrom defended the letter’s suggestion that Coakley, whose office had nothing to do with the awarding of the grants, was nevertheless culpable somehow: “I would imagine she is concerned about reports of law breaking as it relates to ACORN and will want to use the powers of her office to do something about it.” he said.

The ACORN controversy continued to simmer throughout that campaign, with one poll showing that 40 percent of Brown supporters believed that ACORN would try to steal the election.

After the allegations against ACORN had been “investigated and satisfactorily resolved,” as Brown had demanded, and after he had won the election, he had no further comment on the matter. That is, until his press release yesterday, which asserted that the voter outreach efforts he finds so odious are the work of “former ACORN bigwigs.”

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