By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Did Brown endorse a birther for Congress? (revised)

Hudak reportedly put up this sign on his property.

Sen.-elect Scott Brown has endorsed a candidate for Congress who has asserted that President Obama was born in Kenya rather than the United States, and who drew complaints from his neighbors during the 2008 presidential campaign for putting up signs on his property depicting Obama as Osama bin Laden.

The Salem News reports that the Brown campaign has issued a statement endorsing Republican lawyer William Hudak of Boxford, who hopes to unseat U.S. Rep. John Tierney, a Salem Democrat, this fall. Here’s the key passage:

“Bill was with us from the beginning and is the representative the people of the 6th District need,” Brown said in a press release.

“We’re going to take advantage of this endorsement,” Hudak said. “We’re going to capitalize on this momentum and add it to [our] campaign.”

(Update, Thursday, 3 p.m.: Brown spokesman Felix Browne says the senator-elect neither saw nor approved of the press release Hudak put out claiming Brown’s support.)

But on Nov. 3, 2008, the Tri-Town Transcript reported that Hudak and another person who lives on his street had festooned their properties with signs their neighbors found offensive. Reporter Brendan Lewis tells the tale:

Down the road at 165 Herrick Road, William and Angela Hudak have more of the same anti-Obama signs lined along the front of their property. One large, roughly 6-foot-by-4-foot sign stands back from the road, up against their house, with words — such as socialist, Marxist, and lazy — surrounding the same picture of Obama dressed as Osama Bin Laden….

[Hudak] said he decided to put up to signs to spread the message that Obama was not the person that the American public thinks he is.

“I was looking to wake people up and it worked,” Hudak said….

Hudak asserts that Obama was not born in the United States but in Kenya, according to affidavits that he made available to the Tri-Town Transcript. He said that Obama has ties to the Muslim faith through an extremist cousin that is from Kenya.

“There is a lot more going on here than anyone knows,” Hudak said.

Police asked Hudak and his neighbor to remove the signs, and Hudak said he agreed to do so in order to spare the police from the barrage of complaints they had received.

Now, it’s unlikely that Brown knew about Hudak’s birther beliefs before he endorsed him. The Boston Globe didn’t note it in reporting Brown’s endorsement; neither did the Salem News, though columnist Nelson Benton has mentioned it in the past.

But Brown has already been caught expressing falsehoods about Obama. As Blue Mass Group discovered last week, Brown once raised the possibility that Obama had been born out of wedlock, an assertion for which there is zero evidence.

The question now is whether Brown has the guts and integrity to admit he made a mistake and withdraw his endorsement of Hudak.

Not only would Brown’s repudiation of Hudak be the right thing to do, but it would be for the good of the Republican Party as well. Brown won overwhelmingly in Tierney’s district, which you’d think would make the Democrat vulnerable this fall. But if the Republicans can’t come up with a candidate more credible than Hudak, Tierney will likely roll to re-election.

Update: I should point out that the importance of Benton’s column, linked above, was that he confirmed it was that William Hudak, something the original Transcript article did not do.

Update II: I’ve asked Brown spokesman Felix Browne if the senator-elect has anything to say about the Hudak endorsement. Browne replied that he (that is, the spokesman) is “looking into it.”

Photo (cc) by Brendan Lewis. The Tri-Town Transcript makes its content available under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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Was birther candidate Hudak going rogue?


  1. Scutch

    Brown will have to repudiate Hudak, which will make a few teabaggers unhappy.

    Meanwhile, Randall Terry says:
    “Let us mute our praise for Scott Brown — a ‘moderate’ child-killer — and seek to replace him with a true pro-lifer in two years.”

  2. Chuck

    “But if the Republicans can’t come up with a candidate more credible than Hudak, Tierney will likely roll to re-election.”

    After Tuesday, why would you think that?

  3. Michael Pahre

    A major reason why Brown won is that he positioned himself as an independent, or at least someone with independence who will act independently of any special interests and independent of the parties in Washington. He didn’t deny his many conservative positions on particular issues, but he constantly portrayed himself as an independent with independence that can make independent decisions.

    But people in the Tea Party movement are energized because they think that they were the reason he won. Sure, Brown appeared in at least two Tea Party movement events (a rally and a fundraiser), but he ran as an independent on the Republican ticket, not as a Tea Partier.

    I suspect the fallout of the election will embolden the Tea Partiers — and the wackier birthers — into playing a more prominent role in this year’s elections.

    Republicans like Brown may want to embrace these two movements more strongly this year, but it is a tactic that will likely backfire on them. These are two fringe groups that will more likely embarrass than help the Republicans this year.

  4. Harrybosch

    Curious word choice on the caption to the photo, that Hudak “reportedly” put the sign up on his property. Does he not admit so in the second news excerpt?

    • Dan Kennedy

      @Harrybosch: Here’s my problem. Yes, Hudak confirms he put up a sign just like it on his property. But the Transcript cutline does not make clear whether that specific photo was taken in front of his house or his neighbor’s house. So I hedged it a bit. Maybe I can come up with a better hedge.

  5. lkcape

    If Obama, Pelosi, and Ried continue to embrace the movements that they have chosen, then the contest may be continue to be lopsided.

  6. Harrybosch

    Thanks, Dan. I alternately figured that perhaps was the caption the Transcript chose, and you felt uncomfortable changing it.

  7. Dot

    Well, it didn’t take long for the “independent” Scott Brown to reveal his true leanings. Way to go Scott!

  8. Harrybosch

    “Well, it didn’t take long for the “independent” Scott Brown to reveal his true leanings.”

    I predict a Romney-esque epiphany on Roe v Wade any day now.

  9. I guess we won’t know for a while what Brown is really about. I agree with the analysis that he seemed to run as an independent, without reputing the birthers and the like. He had a perfect storm going for him.

    Changing the succession process resulted in an abbreviated primary. It’s likely that Coakley wouldn’t have made it through a more considered vetting. Capuano (my choice) wouldn’t have run flat-footed. She came across as listless, inane and banal.

    The teabaggers were able to portray Obama’s confusing and inept leadership and messaging on Healthcare reform and economic uncertainty as at best lack of competence – worst grist for the conspiracy mills.

    Obama seemed to treat the economic misery as an abstraction getting lost in throwing out numbers when millions were unemployed.

    So you have a flawed process, bad candidate, bad economy, uncertainty with no coherent down-to-earth solutions from the Administration, and people out of work and/or worried about joblessness. Nevermind that we are in a one party state and one party fedral govt. An easy target.

    I’ve blabbered on. But bottom line is if the same continues, dissatisfaction will grow and there may be similar results in the fall. I don’t see Tierny getting beat by someone on the fringe of the right.

  10. BillH

    My guess is that Brown tosses Hudak overboard very quickly, otherwise there goes the senator-elect’s newly won reputation as a moderate. The voters of Massachusetts may be frustrated, angry, fed-up, etc., but they’re not nuts, and that puts them outside the company of the Hudaks. Less than forty-eight hours after victory, and already Brown is in a pickle. Let’s see how he handles it.

  11. Mike Stucka

    Dan: Boxford Assessors have property records online. You already have the address, no? Finding a photo for comparison’s sake is easy then.

    Municipal assessors’ sites are one of my favoritist resources.

    Direct answer here, maybe.

  12. Dunque

    Dan – Your vehemence re: Scott Brown is exceeded only by your silence regarding the prosecutorial abuses of his opponent.

    I don’t know anything about Bill Hudak. What’s interesting is that in the body of your report (I supposed “Scott Brown unaware of past actions of endorsee” isn’t as sexy a headline) you note Scott Brown was probably unaware of some elements of Hudak’s past.

    This game of associations can go round and round and round. Which MA delegation members worked closely in the past w/Cynthia McKinney? Or Keith “Reichstag Fire” Ellison? But in the end, what’s accomplished by it?

    Why don’t we wait and see what actual policy positions and votes our new Senator takes/makes and have some debate/discussion about that? Because it’s policies and votes that surely decided this past election.

  13. Steve Stein

    Scutch “Brown will have to repudiate Hudek”

    Why is that? What’s the downside for Brown in this political climate? He’ll probably lose more politically by angering the Teabaggers.

  14. O-FISH-L

    Dan, I’m not sure if I’m a birther, but I think there is some merit to the concerns that Obama was born outside the country. You act like the claim is akin to the moon is made of cheese.

    I’m wise enough to know that there’s nothing we can do about it, and that Obama will remain in office as long as he is electable, but your attempts to discredit people who are concerned is (to use his words about America) “dismissive, even derisive.”

    As for confusion over Obama and Osama bin Laden, our own Ted Kennedy, who once held the Brown seat, once called Obama “Osama bin Lad.. Osama Obama…Obama.”

  15. Harrybosch

    “I think there is some merit to the concerns that Obama was born outside the country.”

    There is no merit to the concerns that Obama was born outside this country.

    Anyone who believes otherwise, in the face of overwhelming evidence, has moved beyond facts, and reason, to the land of tin-foil hattery, where the moon landing never took place, and the Royal Family of England are reptilian humanoids dedicated to the overthrow of humanity.

  16. Treg

    It’ll be interesting to see if the Globe does anything on this, now that Scott Brown is King of the Universe.

  17. Tunder

    “As for confusion over Obama and Osama bin Laden, our own Ted Kennedy, who once held the Brown seat, once called Obama “Osama bin Lad.. Osama Obama…Obama.”

    That relates to this discussion in what way? That it’s OK to put a sign of Obama dressed as one of the most vile terrorists (oxymoron) of our time on their lawn and then run on a “family values” platform like Hudak’s website states?

    No problem with that? Or maybe I’m missing something?

  18. Scutch

    Harry, is elitist, and part of the reason why Brown won on Tuesday.

  19. Rich

    Hey Dan,

    Will your next post be about Gail Huff’s 30 year old music video, and the newly discovered Ayla and Ariana bikini vacation picture? Move on, will ya?

  20. Dot

    Our new Senator isn’t smart enough to check into the background of someone he endorses and we’re supposed to move on? Small Time Scott Brown needs to be a little more circumspect.

    As to concerns about Obama being ineligible for the Presidency, well, we had a Governor of this state who was *clearly* ineligible, and had to retroactively alter his tax returns to even get the fig leaf that he was a citizen of the Commonwealth. I don’t recall a great hue and cry amongst Republicans when that little deal went down. Heck, there are more valid questions about John McCain being eligible than Barack Obama.

  21. Harrybosch

    Hilarious, Scutch. You win the thread.

  22. mike_b1

    “Teabagger” is a such an unusual term to want to call oneself. It’s like those into social media calling themselves “SMers.”

  23. Rich


    I suppose Ted Kennedy or John Kerry never stood behind Robert Byrd on anything, right? This comparison game can be played on both sides for eternity. It’s pointless.

  24. O-FISH-L

    Just an anecdote: Police officers in uniform make a decision at every call. Do I file a written report to the Detective Bureau for further investigation or can I resolve this matter here?

    Not that I care at this point, but I would report the concerns about Obama’s birthplace to the Detective Bureau for further investigation. There’s no way it can be resolved on the scene or at Media Nation.

    Obama, may very well have been born in Hawaii, but from Auntie Zeituni to his time in the madrassa (according to his own Hillary Clinton), concerns about his origin are understandable. The “nothing to see here” attitude smacks of the dismissive tone when Coakley’s goon assaulted the reporter. Voters deserve the truth.

  25. Patricia

    Who cares? Geez, we are at war, the economy is in the tank, we’ve got this health care bill being forced upon us (hopefully it’s moot by the end of the day), and Dan gets his bloomers in a bunch over this?

    Move on!

  26. MKS

    For checks and balances, allow one “birther” in Congress for each “truther” in the administration.

  27. Harrybosch

    “The “nothing to see here” attitude smacks of the dismissive tone when Coakley’s goon assaulted the reporter.”

    Gotta hand it to you, Fish. You may want to alert these people to your concerns as well:

    “birth certificate hunters have lurched into rabid Truther territory . . . they accuse anyone who disagrees with them of being part and parcel of the grand plan to install Emperor Obama and usurp the rule of law.” – Michelle Malkin

    “[birthers are] crazy, nutburger, demagogue, money-hungry, exploitative, irresponsible, filthy conservative imposters . . . the worst enemy of the conservative movement . . . make us look sick, troubled and not suitable for civilized company.” – Michael Medved

    “cranks” – Ann Coulter

  28. Treg

    Bloomers? And here I thought I had DK pegged as a boxers guy.

  29. Harrybosch

    Patricia says: “Who cares? . . . Move on!”

    That “nothing to see here” attitude smacks of the dismissive tone when Coakley’s goon assaulted the reporter.

  30. IlovetheUSA

    The “House of Hate on Herrick Road…”

  31. BillHudak

    It’s easy to make assumptions and criticize without the facts. So, please come and learn them.

    My headquarters is 151 Endicott Street, Unit 5, Danvers; my phone is 978-739-2300. Anyone who wants to meet with me need only call, make an appointment or just stop by and if I am here, I will meet with you any time and answer any questions whatsoever about the birther misquote or signs I admit (honestly) to having placed in my yard. The news article from before the election was not accurate, and the single act of placing a sign in my yard during a heated election does not define who I am.

    I fully accept that as a candidate voters have the right to criticize the act of placing a controversial sign, and I have expressed my regrets that to some this exercise of my First Amendment rights was offensive. Beyond that, I do not apologize for standing strong in my view that the country is headed down the wrong path and can tell you unequivocally that I have the ability to undertake the serious responsibility of this office. My opponent, Mr. Tierney’s 13 year record as a liberal tax and spend advocate stands for itself, and the legislation he has voted for as a member of Congress is the reason we are now $12.5 Trillion in debt, and headed for financial disaster. Don’t forget, it is CONGRESS that makes the laws and spends the money, not the President. Mr. Tierney’s votes are a public record, and we have researched them thoroughly.

    I have been campaigning openly, speaking publicly, since July, 2009. I am fully accessible, and open to meeting people face to face. I have held multiple town hall meetings all over the district (and will continue to do so, scheduling them in every city and town), and even held the Town Hall meeting on Health Care that Mr. Tierney refused to hold. Those meetings were held in front of hundreds of people (countless thousands in total), without criticism of my capability or candidacy. I have been interviewed on television and radio, fully accepting calls from voters. The GOP has welcomed me and my candidacy as well. Virtually all who have taken the time to come to events, meet me in person, and ask whatever questions they want, have left satisfied that I am up to this challenge; it is only those who choose to sit silently, blog, and make assumptions who have not honestly afforded themselves a chance. In total, these meetings are the reasons that my candidacy has flourished; how I have been able to receive thousands of nomination signatures within a week; and how donors (one way of determining confidence in my ability) have had donated more to my campaign than all other Republican congressional candidates combined, in this election cycle and the last.

    It was not until after the sixth month of my candidacy that I received any criticism, starting with this blog, written with out Mr.Kennedy or anyone else calling me first, and EVERYTHING thereafter has been based on this isolated, one time, inaccurate news article, and the passionate acts which I undertook as a private citizen prior to the election. I have not hidden, nor have I ever run from the opportunity to discuss this or any other issue. I am not afraid of letting people know who or where I am; and my car is evidence of that. Name recognition, in the face of an entrenched incumbent, however bold or unconventional, is important.

    So, rather than make assumptions and jump to conclusions without first hand facts, come and talk, or meet me at a Town Hall meeting. You will see that the past 52 years of my life do not come down to a single act before a heated election where millions of people were seriously concerned about Mr. Obama’s ties to unsavory people like the terrorist William Ayers, Reverend Wright, and Louis Farrakhan, and about his platform proposing government takeover of our industries, all of which is coming to fruition. Where he, with the help of the Congress, has already added $3 Trillion to our national debt in 14 months, is there really any doubt that these were valid concerns? Are we really stronger now that Iran has reportedly developed nuclear capability while we delay, where underwear bombers slip through security, where we are now affording known terrorists the rights of Citizens rather than enemy combatants, and where we are being embarrassed in the eyes of the world? If these concerns were not valid, why does Congress’ approval rating now stand around 25%, while Mr. Obama’s ratings continue to plummet.

    If after meeting, you and I continue to disagree with the direction the policies in Congress should take, you will have my respect as a fellow citizen. I welcome disagreement on the issues, as it is only through open and honest debate (not bribery, threats, and coercion like the Nebraska and Louisiana votes on the health care bill) that our country should implement policy and legislation. I respect that each person has the right under our American form of government to be who they are, and I respect the right of each and every citizen to form his or her own belief and opinion. My hope is that you will understand that this works both ways.

    So, I welcome the opportunity to meet and talk, and hope everyone who is looking for an alternative to Mr. Tierney undertakes to do so.

  32. John Swift

    That’s all very nicely worded Mr. Hudak, but anyone who claims Obama ran on a platform proposing government takeover of “our industries” clearly thinks that Obama is not one of us. So don’t insult my intelligence. Your yard sign was simply the tip of the iceberg, now you’ve revealed your radical agenda.

  33. Mike Benedict


  34. Excellent response by Mr. Hudak. I can’t believe John (not so) Swift followed with:

    “That’s all very nicely worded Mr. Hudak, but anyone who claims Obama ran on a platform proposing government takeover of “our industries” clearly thinks that Obama is not one of us. So don’t insult my intelligence. Your yard sign was simply the tip of the iceberg, now you’ve revealed your radical agenda.”

    Any reasonable person will see how the left spins things. In Hudak’s words, he’s not saying “our industries” as if Obama isn’t a part of us, he’s just saying Obama proposed taking over our (all Americans including Obama) industries.

    Not so hard to comprehend… except for Mr. Swift. Even Dan knew to keep his yap shut on that one.

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