BROWN FORGETS HIS FRIENDS [Updated]…. The Tea Party “movement” isn’t especially influential in Massachusetts, but the Teabagging crowd is doing what it can to elect Scott Brown, a surprisingly conservative Republican, to the U.S. Senate next week. Yesterday, however, the GOP hopeful not only had no opinion about the right-wing faction, Brown pretended to have no idea what the Tea Party even is.

Since Saturday, the group behind has spent at least $32,000 supporting Scott Brown, the Republican candidate for the Massachusetts Senate seat, federal records show. Brown’s own campaign Web site highlights a fundraiser held a couple weeks ago called the “Friends of the Tea Party Scott Brown reception,” where paying $500 earned supporters the label “American Revolutionary” (for a mere 25 bucks, you could be a “Patriot”). The conservative blogs that help fuel the tea party movement have been abuzz over Brown for weeks, eager to see the GOP candidate pull an upset win over Democrat Martha Coakley.

Which makes Brown’s statement to the Boston Globe Wednesday about all the fuss a bit of a surprise. “I’m a Scott Brown Republican,” Brown told the paper when asked about his ideological alliances. When a reporter asked him about the support from the tea party groups, he apparently demurred. “He also claimed that he was unfamiliar with the ‘Tea Party movement,’ when asked by a reporter,” the Globe reports.

Look, Brown is running in Massachusetts, and if wants to take a pass on condemning the far-right Teabaggers, that’s understandable. But for a statewide political candidate to insist, with a straight face, that he’s “unfamiliar” with the Tea Party crowd almost certainly reflects blatant dishonesty.

Indeed, there’s not much ambiguity about the veracity of Brown’s comments — he’s accepted money from Tea Party fundraisers; he’s accepted Tea Party endorsements; and his campaign website features several photographs and event listings of the candidate “addressing Tea Party groups on the campaign trail.”

Scott Brown may be embarrassed by his association with the Tea Party crowd, but pretending not to know they exist is just sad.

One other key angle here: are Teabaggers, who’ve been busting their butts to get Brown elected, going to tolerate a slap in the face like this? Tea Party groups are rallying the troops and emptying their wallets to help Brown, and their candidate doesn’t even want to acknowledge their existence in public?

Update: Or maybe the Globe’s reporting wasn’t quite as fair as it should have been. Greg Sargent has the audio and the transcript of Brown’s comments on this. When he said, “I’m not quite sure what you are referring to,” the context makes it seem as if he’s commenting on Tea Party efforts to take down moderate Republicans, not the existence of the Tea Party “movement” itself.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.