Georgia Tea Party congressman and 2014 Senate hopeful Rep. Paul Broun (R) fled from questions about potentially improper handling of $33,000 of taxpayer funds on Monday.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Broun shut his office door in Channel 2 Action News reporter Justin Gray’s face rather than face questions about his decision to pay a campaign employee with taxpayer funds.
Activist Bryan Long of Better Georgia called Broun’s actions “inexcusable.”
“It’s going to be interesting to see what he says about how he used that money and what he used it for,” said Long by phone from Better Georgia’s new offices in Athens, GA, the heart of Broun’s district.
“It’s no wonder he hired a debate coach, though,” said Long. “He can’t open his mouth without saying something dumb and unpopular.”
Gray’s audit of Broun’s 2012 to 2014 spending found that Broun paid the $33,000 to Brett O’Donnell, a former debate coach from Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University who worked on Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign, as well as stints with former President George W. Bush and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R).
Broun’s office released a statement on Monday saying that O’Donnell “provides training with public speaking, on-camera interviews, and media appearances so that Dr. Broun can best communicate his legislative priorities, issues, and message with his constituents.”
Broun is known to many for his 2012 statement to a group of Baptist Republicans that — in spite of his medical degree — he does not believe in the science of evolution or the Big Bang theory, but rather views them as “lies straight from the pit of Hell.”
He is now the leading Republican in the running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss. Among his competitors in the primary are Reps. Phil Gingrey (R) and Jack Kingston (R).
Long speculated that Broun’s primary competitors are going to attack him for the spending in the potentially bruising primary race in Georgia this spring.
“I would be surprised if they don’t line up to attack him on this,” he said. “It’s a hypocritical position that he’s taken. He says he’s mindful of taxpayer money, but then he spends it for his own self-enrichment.”
“Not that his debate coach seems to have been very useful to him,” Long said, indicating Broun’s record of gaffes in addition to the “pit of Hell” remarks. Earlier this year, he said that the only way Democrats can win in Georgia is to recruit “illegal aliens” to vote.
At a GOP primary debate in February, Broun said that the U.S. must unconditionally support Israel, not because of any strategic advantage, but “because of a promise God made to Abraham. He said, ‘I’ll bless those that bless you and I’ll curse those who curse you.’ America must support Israel to continue to be blessed.”
Broun was quoting Chapter 12, verse 3 of the Christian Bible’s opening book, Genesis.
Reps. Gingrey and Kingston’s offices declined to comment for this story.
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