Controversial ex-senator and former nude model Scott Brown picked as US ambassador to NZ

US President Donald Trump with his US Ambassador to New Zealand pick Scott Brown on the US election campaign trail.
REUTERS

US President Donald Trump with his US Ambassador to New Zealand pick Scott Brown on the US election campaign trail.

US President Donald Trump's confirmed his choice of the United States' next ambassador to New Zealand as a Republican who supports waterboarding and once won the title of "America's Sexiest Man".

On Friday, Trump announced he plans to nominate Scott Brown, a lawyer and former US Senator, for the Wellington-based role.

Strong speculation in February that Brown would be Trump's pick prompted a backlash in New Zealand due to Brown's controversial past, which includes an ongoing sexual harassment lawsuit brought by a US TV host.

Scott Brown has a controversial past, including supporting waterboarding.
REUTERS

Scott Brown has a controversial past, including supporting waterboarding.

A statement issued by the White House on Friday said Brown, from Massachussetts, had served in the National Guard before receiving his law degree at Boston College Law School. 

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He then served in the Massachussetts legislature, before representing his state in the US Senate between 2010 and 2012.

Since then, it says, he "has been a political commentator for Fox News".

The US Senate will need to confirm his appointment.

Brown said he was unable to comment ahead of his confirmation.

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The 57-year-old doesn't appear to have any ties to New Zealand, but he did tell GQ Magazine in 2015 he "always wanted to go".

Brown has led a varied life, and was a promising basketball star as a youngster before embarking on a military career where he rose to the rank of colonel. He also spent years as a male model in the 1980s.

As a 22-year-old in 1982 he won Cosmopolitan magazine's "America's Sexiest Man" contest, posing nude in the centrefold.

Four years later, he married his wife, journalist Gail Huff. The couple have two adult daughters.

After taking up politics, he succeeded the late Ted Kennedy as senator in a surprise win in 2010 in Massachusetts.

He ran for full Senate in 2012, losing to the Democrats' Elizabeth Warren.

As a Republican senator he endorsed the use of enhanced interrogation techniques - including the practice of simulated drowning known as waterboarding - in questioning terror suspects.

A former US intelligence adviser in New Zealand, Paul Buchanan, said his impending appointment was "an insult" while the Islamic Women's Council of New Zealand also expressed concern.

In June 2016, Brown was accused in a lawsuit of making sexually inappropriate comments and putting his hands on the lower waist of former Fox News host Andrea Tantaros.

​He denied the accusations.

Brown won Trump's favour by endorsing him at a pivotal point of the 2016 GOP presidential primaries, just after Trump had lost Iowa to Ted Cruz and just before the New Hampshire primary. 

He was briefly floated as a possible vice-presidential running mate for Trump, and in November said he hoped to become Trump's secretary of Veterans Affairs, but was passed over, Politico reported.

In 2011, Brown wrote an autobiography called Against All Odds where he spoke of being sexually abused as a 10-year-old while on a summer camp, along with a childhood marred by violence and poverty.

In the book, he also detailed his life as a young basketball star, then law student, to parties at the legendary Studio 54 nightclub in New York.

Brown mentioned his exploits as a shoplifter, with items taken ranging from a three-piece-suit, to steaks and music albums.

The previous US ambassador to New Zealand, Mark Gilbert, left his Wellington post after Trump's inauguration in January.

 - Stuff

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