An obscure company in West Palm Beach that markets itself as a firearms manufacturer made a splashy announcement last summer: It was appointing Scott Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, to its advisory board. Not revealed at the time was what Brown received in exchange for lending his name to the venture. But a report the company made to the Securities and Exchange Commission last month, which has not been previously made public, shows that Brown received stock that was worth $1.3 million at the time. Its value has declined considerably since then, as the stock price has fallen by half.
At a distance, Global Digital Solutions Inc. seems like an unusual company. GDSI was reportedly founded as a beauty supply company in New Jersey, before moving to South Florida and marketing itself as a firearms manufacturer.
But that's not the unusual part. As the Boston Globe's Noah Bierman and Todd Wallack reported, this firearms manufacturer does not actually make or sell firearms, at least not yet. Global Digital Solutions Inc. has "no revenue, no patents, no trademarks, no manufacturing facilities, and no experience developing weapons."
But that's not the unusual part, either. Rather, what seems odd about GDSI's enterprise is the fact that it's partnered with former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), currently running for the Senate in his new home state of New Hampshire.
The Globe talked to a variety of financial analysts who seemed concerned about GDSI's operations. A former lead lawyer for the SEC and chief of enforcement for the National Association of Securities Dealers, said the company's actions raise a number of issues "that I think a regulator would look at."
When the Globe sent a reporter to the company's West Palm Beach address, the company was not listed on any building directory.
Brown didn't want to talk about his role in the company when asked late last week, but a campaign spokesperson described GDSI as "a start-up company" in which Brown "has an advisory role."
The former senator has tackled quite a few jobs since leaving the Senate a year and a half ago -- including a gig at Fox News -- but hasn't offered any details about how much money he made in these various endeavors and from whom.
In case this weren't quite strange enough, the same company announced in April 2013 that former Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll (R) had joined the company as a senior adviser.
In March 2013, Carroll was forced to abruptly resign from office, after her company was accused of helping oversee a fraudulent veterans' charity and using gambling at Internet cafes to launder money.