US Ambassador Scott Brown 'counseled' after comments in Samoa spark inquiry

PHOTO: Scott Brown, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, attends a July event in Samoa celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in the island nation.PlayZack Agerton
WATCH Scott Brown: Everything You Need to Know

Scott Brown, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, said today a State Department inquiry was opened into his conduct at a summer event he attended in Samoa. He said his comments to some guests and a food server were taken as offensive.

Brown told New Zealand news website Stuff that the blowback from his remarks at a July Peace Corps celebration resulted from a cultural misunderstanding and may have been politically motivated.

A State Department official said late Wednesday that, following an internal review, Brown had been “counseled on standards of conduct for government employees.”

Brown told Stuff earlier that, upon arriving at the July event, he and his wife, Gail Huff, encountered a receiving line, where he said people who looked "dirty and grungy" earlier were dressed well and "all looked great."

"Gail and I both walked in, and we said, 'Boy, you guys look beautiful. You look really handsome, sir. You know, you guys are great,'" Brown said. "And apparently somebody took offense to that."

PHOTO: Scott Brown, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, attends a July event in Samoa celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in the island nation. Zack Agerton
Scott Brown, the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa, attends a July event in Samoa celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Peace Corps in the island nation.

He later complimented a server, he said, and someone was offended by his comments.

"When someone came over and served food, I said, 'You know what? You can make hundreds of dollars in the services industry, you know, waitress, bartender, sales. You're doing a — you guys are doing a great job,'" Brown said. "And somebody took offense to that as well."

The State Department official said the agency’s Office of Inspector General had carried out an independent review of the allegations.

“Senior leadership at the State Department has been in contact with Ambassador Brown and he has been counseled on standards of conduct for government employees, which also includes Ambassadors,” the official said in a statement.

Brown, who is a Republican and was a supporter of Donald Trump's presidential campaign last year, suggested that complaints about his remarks stemmed from political preferences. Brown previously served as a U.S. senator from Massachusetts and was appointed to the ambassadorship by Trump.

"Politics is a bloodsport back home," Brown said, "and at this event, it was a — there were a lot of people that didn't like the president. Sadly, it's politics. It is what it is."

The Peace Corps would not say whether its volunteers or staff had complained, referring questions about the event to the State Department.

PHOTO: Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown greets people on the floor of the House Chamber at the Statehouse in Boston in this Jan. 8, 2015 file photo. Steven Senne/AP, FILE
Former Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown greets people on the floor of the House Chamber at the Statehouse in Boston in this Jan. 8, 2015 file photo.

Brown said he was in Samoa to present his diplomatic credentials and attended the Peace Corps' 50th anniversary in Samoa celebration, on his first day there. Photographs from the event show him and Huff speaking to attendees.

Brown and Huff, who sat beside him while he spoke to Stuff, said they have learned to be more careful with their words. He said the inquiry concluded with a warning to be more aware of cultural sensitivities.

"I was in fact told by my people that, 'Listen, you know, you're not Scott Brown from Rye, New Hampshire, anymore. You're an ambassador. And you have to be aware, culturally aware, of different cultures, different insensitivities,'" Brown said. "And I'm always welcoming that kind of advice."

"Will I say it again?" he added, laughing. "Probably not."

ABC News' Conor Finnegan contributed to this report.