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Sunday, October 23, 2016

You should not be shocked to learn that gaffe-prone congressman and Senate candidate Paul Broun (R-GA) has spent tens of thousands of dollars on a rhetoric coach. But you may be surprised to discover that you are footing the bill for it.

According to a report by WSB-TV’s Justin Gray, Rep. Broun has spent $33,000 of his congressional office budget over the past two years to pay rhetorical specialist and debate coach Brett O’Donnell. When Gray noticed the curious expenditure of taxpayer money, he paid a visit to Broun’s D.C. office — only to have the door slammed in his face.

“Can we ask you why you’re spending all this money on a debate coach?” Gray asked the third-term congressman.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have time to talk,” Broun replied.

“Can’t we talk to you for just one minute please, sir?” Gray asked. Broun then shut his office door on the reporter.

Broun’s press secretary later provided a statement to WSB-TV, explaining 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.”

As Ed Kilgore notes at Washington Monthly, Broun appears to be toeing an ethical line by using taxpayer money to pay O’Donnell. If O’Donnell is doing any campaign work — which certainly seems likely for a debate coach — then he would have to be paid at least partially through campaign funds.

Even if the arrangement is legally sound, asking taxpayers to foot the bill for his rhetoric coach should tarnish Broun’s self-styled image as an extreme fiscal conservative (the congressman even criticized Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget for not cutting enough spending).

Voters may also wonder what, exactly, Broun was getting for their money. After all, even with a coach, Broun can’t seem to stop saying things like evolution and the Big Bang theory are “lies straight from the pit of Hell,” or that “the only Constitution that Barack Obama upholds is the Soviet constitution,” among many other curious claims.

(If you’re wondering how O’Donnell hasn’t been fired yet, perhaps the answer lies in a story from 2012. A former campaign aide to Rep. Michele Bachmann accused O’Donnell of developing an “unnatural,” “Rasputin-like” control over the congresswoman while working on her 2012 presidential run, leaving Bachmann “fearful of O’Donnell” and “broken emotionally” by the end of her campaign. O’Donnell strongly denied the claim.)

Ultimately, the incident is just the latest reason that Democrat Michelle Nunn is likely rooting for Broun to emerge from Georgia’s crowded Republican primary (in which Broun is not the only candidate to spend taxpayer money controversially).

According to The Huffington Post’s polling average, Broun currently holds an 11-point lead in the primary.

Photo: Gage Skidmore via Flickr

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Copyright 2014 The National Memo
  • disqus_ivSI3ByGmh

    If this were a Democrat, Darryl Issa would have already started an investigation. As this is a Republican, it MUST be perfectly legal AND ethical. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.

  • Dominick Vila

    We picked up the tab when we ignored the fraudulent applications for tax exempt status submitted by Tea Party organizations, allowed them to claim victim-hood, and let criminals get away with their malfeasance. Allowing the GOP to shift attention from their crime by accusing the administration of singling out organizations associated with the Tea Party was icing on the cake for the GOP.
    Yes, taxpayers have been helping the GOP finance their lavish campaigns, but this is not new. It has been going for a long time, and it will continue to happen as long as we let them get away with it.

    • david bovard

      you all just cant stand to get beat. suck up little girlies !

      • Barbara Morgan

        You need to grow up and realize that it is your money also this man is wasting for something that isn’t necessary and has helped him one bit little mind.

      • BillP

        It’s wonderful to read a comment of such great intellectual depth and gets to the point so quickly. You must have spent a great deal of time to come with this witty and incisive comment. I applaud you!!

      • Sams Mom

        Interesting that your go-to insult is to refer to people as “little girlies”.
        Really speaks volumes about your character. Hope you don’t have daughters. Or sons.

  • Ivan Boatwright

    best way o stop him is at the polls or claim self defence if you see him as he is dangerous and georgia is almost as bad as Florida in their shoot first law.

    • Allan Richardson

      They want to allow guns everywhere — churches, bars, schools — that is not controlled by the Feds (e.g. airports), but not inside the Georgia Capitol where they work.

      • DurdyDawg

        I think you just pegged ’em.

  • Bob Eddy

    YAWN! Rightful wing “conservatism” has alway been about how Democrats spend money and not about anything. ee

  • jointerjohn

    Story about a republican congressman who is a complete hypocrite and a lying pig slopping at the public trough. This isn’t news and certainly not a surprise. Now if they came up with a tea party right-winger who WAS NOT those things, now that would be news!

    • irishtap


  • irishtap

    My first thought was – ‘this guy is no spring chicken, and he’s supposed to be a well educated, confident public official.Yeah, yeah forgive me on this. But then, I realized, with Republicans – it’s always about messaging – never the text or minutae of an issue. So in true GOP hypocritcal form – ‘let’s charge the taxpayers for my lessons on how to cleverly spew unsophisticated, effusive circumlocution’. What we have here is a GOPlin, so lacking in knowledge or even the basic skill of communication, that his insecurity is forcing us to pay for his lessons on lying to the public. Just another example of steroidal corruption from these politically poisonous gas bags. If we were able to frac the corpse of the GOP, this country’s energy prices would be low with reserves lasting a thousand years.