Ex-Sen. Scott Brown, business doofus

Ex-Sen. Scott Brown's bizarre dalliance with a penny-stock 'gun manufacturer'

Via Charlie Pierce and the Boston Globe comes this priceless vignette of the bizarre marriage pairing former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) with a publicly traded would-be West Palm Beach, Fla., gun manufacturer named Global Digital Solutions Inc.

You may remember Scott Brown. A Republican state legislator, he smoked the underachieving Democrat Martha Coakley to win a surprise victory in the 2010 special election to succeed the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Brown's victory threw the Senate effort to pass the Affordable Care Act into disarray, though it eventually passed anyway. He lost to Elizabeth Warren in the 2012 election for a full Senate term. Now he's running for the Senate in New Hampshire, where the signs are he'll be losing to Democrat Jeanne Shaheen

In the meantime, according to the Globe, Brown has signed on as "advisor" to Global Digital Solutions, receiving stock originally valued at $1.3 million. GDSI closed Tuesday at 35 cents, down 4.21% on the OTCQB exchange, which trades wink-and-a-promise companies with share prices of at least one cent. At that price, Brown's shares are now worth $525,000. Look out below.

GDSI's business history will fascinate aficionados of financial penny dreadfuls. According to its most recent annual report, it was originally a beauty supply company out of New Jersey. The company then morphed into a "telecommunications" company snarfing around for government contracts from a base in Folsom, Calif.

Not receiving any (apparently), the firm in 2012 "made the decision to wind down our operations in the telecommunications area and refocus our efforts in the area of small arms manufacturing, knowledge-based and culturally attuned social consulting and security-related solutions in unsettled areas," according to the annual report.

This year, GDSI submitted a bid to acquire Freedom Group, the maker of Remington and Bushmaster guns whose owner, the private equity firm Cerberus, became desperate to unload after the 2012 Sandy Hill massacre in Newtown, Conn. Cerberus thought so much of the offer that it didn't even bother to respond. GDSI has kindly left the offer open if Cerberus changes its mind, however. 

The Globe describes the company as essentially quicksand for unwary investors, and judging from GDSI's public disclosures that doesn't sound unfair. Its revenues in 2012, 2013 and so far in 2014 have been zero. Its Palm Beach address belongs to a company that rents out conference rooms by appointment to businesses trying to look genuine. Like, say, penny stock firms.

Brown's political spokesperson says he has "an advisory role but he is not involved in the day to day management or decisions of the company." Let's hope not. But what, exactly, is he advising it about? The broader question for voters in New England is: Why in heaven's name is Brown affiliating himself with this outfit? To ask the question is to answer it. 

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