U.S. ambassador to New Zealand Scott Brown faced complaints over 'cultural misunderstanding'

JAN. 8 2015 FILE

Scott Brown, the us ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, said today an inquiry had been opened into his conduct at a summer event he attended in Samoa.

Brown confirmed that his comments, and the resulting complaints, were the subject of an official inquiry by the State Department - but chalked the incident up to cultural misunderstanding.

Mr Brown said in a video statement released on Wednesday that he wanted to address "rumour and innuendo" reports of an "administrative investigation" into his comments in Samoa, an independent state in the Polynesian islands.

"We walked in and everyone was dressed to the nines", Brown said, speaking alongside his wife, Gail Huff, about the Peace Corps event in July.

Brown said an "element" of the investigation into his conduct was anger at President Donald Trump.

"When we walked into the Peace Corps event, we walked in and there was a receiving line", Brown told the New Zealand news site Stuff.

Besides the word "beautiful", also at issue was the comment that the women would make good waitresses, Brown tried to spin the comment to be positive, saying that they could succeed in the "service industry" - throwing in other jobs like bartending - because they were "doing a great job". Stuff reported Brown told the server she could make hundreds of dollars as a waitress in the USA and told some guests they looked attractive. Why he thinks the complaints against him are politically motivated: He's a Trump supporter said to have the president's ear.

"Politics is a bloodsport back home", Brown, a Republican, told the media. They all looked great, Gail looked great, you know I was dressed up and Gail and I both walked in and we said, "Boy you guys look attractive, you look really handsome sir, you know, you guys are great", ' he explained.

Brown attended the event with his wife and said he'd been complimenting the well-dressed guests as they walked in. "You know, you guys look great, '" Brown recounted. "Fine. I did say that".

"Little tables, I mean, it's close quarters", Brown says in the video. "You guys are great", and apparently somebody took offense to that". "You know, you guys are great, '" Brown said.

This story has been corrected to show that Brown is from Rye, New Hampshire, not Ryan.

"I'm always welcoming that kind of advice", he added.

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