Scott Brown’s campaign has threatened Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig, whose MayDay PAC is supporting one of Brown’s opponents in the New Hampshire Senate GOP primary, with legal action for calling him a “lobbyist.”
Lessig posted Sunday on his blog a cease-and-desist letter that he said he received from the Brown campaign. The letter referred to a direct-mail piece being sent by MayDay PAC, which advocates for campaign finance reform and is supporting Jim Rubens in the Republican primary, that called Brown “a Washington lobbyist.”
The letter from the Brown campaign demanded that Lessig stop sending the mailer and retract the statement in a media appearance. “If you fail to immediately cease the mailer in question, we are leaving all our legal options on the table,” Colin Reed, Brown’s campaign manager, wrote to conclude the letter.
The Brown campaign also accused Lessig of violating Harvard University’s code of conduct, and Lessing said in his post that the letter had been sent to Harvard provost Alan Garber and Harvard president Drew Faust. “Sir, your lies and falsehoods in no way exemplify Harvard’s honor code,” Reed wrote. “Your actions are not clever, Professor Lessig; they are dishonest.”
Lessig acknowledged in his post that Brown might not have been a lobbyist by the strict definition of the U.S. Senate, which oversees lobbyist registration and disclosure in Washington, but he pointed to a Hill report from March 2013 after Brown had been hired by Nixon Peabody, a law and lobbying firm. The Hill reported that Brown would work as counsel on “business and governmental affairs” for the firm.
“I hadn’t received the memo that explained that the English language is now regulated by the rules of the United States Senate,” Lessig wrote on Sunday.
“I submit to anyone else in the world, a former Senator joining a ‘law and lobbying firm’ to help with Wall St’s ‘business and governmental affairs’ is to make him a lobbyist,” he continued. “Because to anyone else in the world, when you sell your influence to affect ‘business and governmental affairs,’ you are a lobbyist.”