WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — U.S. Ambassador Scott Brown told a New Zealand website Wednesday that he accepted advice that he should be more culturally aware after a U.S. inquiry into his conduct at a Peace Corps event in Samoa.
The Stuff website said Brown acknowledged that complaints were made about his comments to a female food server and to arriving guests at the July event in the Pacific country. Stuff reported Brown told the server she could make hundreds of dollars as a waitress in the U.S. and told some guests they looked beautiful.
Brown, a former U.S. senator from Massachusetts, has been ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa since June. He was one of the first ambassadors tapped by President Donald Trump.
Brown attended the event with his wife and said he'd been complimenting the well-dressed guests as they walked in. He said the complaints had come as a surprise but he accepted the advice from the inquiry.
"I was told that, 'You know, listen, you're not Scott Brown from Rye, New Hampshire, anymore, you're an ambassador and you have to be culturally aware of different cultures, and different sensitivities.' And I'm always welcoming that kind of advice," Brown told Stuff.
He said there had been some cultural misunderstandings, but also that many people at the event didn't like Trump and he suspected there might be some political motivation behind the complaints.
"Sadly, it's politics, and it is what is," he told Stuff.
He said rumors about the incident had prompted him to speak out. The U.S. Embassy in New Zealand said Brown would not comment beyond the interview he gave to the news website.
This story has been corrected to show that Brown is from Rye, New Hampshire, not Ryan.