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March 18, 2014 4:15 PM Your Tax Dollars At Work On Paul Broun’s Rhetoric

By Ed Kilgore

Just when it looked like the Senate campaign of Rep. Paul Broun, Jr., was taking flight, he’s invited some bad press, per this report from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s political team:

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun has spent $33,000 of his congressional office budget over the last two years on a specialist in rhetorical skills….
[T]he money went…to Brett O’Donnell, the former Liberty University debate coach was Michele Bachmann’s top aide when she ran for president in 2012. O’Donnell has also served as a debate coach for George W. Bush and Mitt Romney.
Broun’s office identifies O’Donnell as a vetted staffer:
“In compliance with all House rules, Brett O’Donnell has been a contract member of Congressman Broun’s official communications team since early 2012. He provides training, as he does with several other Members of Congress, 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 stated by the House Administration Committee, O’Donnell’s communications training is in compliance with all House rules.”

This raises a number of questions, the most pressing being whether O’Donnell had a hand in Broun’s most famous piece of elocution:

All that stuff I was taught about evolution, embryology, Big Bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of hell. It’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who are taught that from understanding that they need a savior. There’s a lot of scientific data that I found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I believe that the Earth is about 9,000 years old. I believe that it was created in six days as we know them. That’s what the Bible says. And what I’ve come to learn is that it’s the manufacturer’s handbook, is what I call it. It teaches us how to run our lives individually. How to run our families, how to run our churches. But it teaches us how to run all our public policy and everything in society. And that’s the reason, as your congressman, I hold the Holy Bible as being the major directions to me of how I vote in Washington, D.C., and I’ll continue to do that.”

Beyond that, there are some possible ethics issues. I worked for the Senate, not the House, but in my Senate days anybody who had anything to do with campaign work had to draw at least a portion of his or her compensation from campaign funds, not Senate funds. If, as seems reasonable to assume for a Member who is campaigning for higher office like a rat in heat, Broun was polishing his rhetoric for use somewhere other than on the House floor (no one really thinks Broun, or probably even a consultant, has anything to do with routine constituent correspondence), it could raise eyebrows, though supposedly House bean-counters signed off on it.

Given Broun’s notorious weakness in raising campaign funds, however, you do wonder if he cut a corner here or there, and let the taxpayers help him out in communicating The Stone Constitutional Conservative Truth to Georgians weary of RINO socialism. I could see him or his staff rationalizing it on grounds that if enough people like Broun get elected, taxes will go way down as they get rid of all the godless redistribution going on.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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