GOP Rep. Paul Broun, a Tea Party favorite and the current front-runner to win the GOP nomination for his state's upcoming Senate election, is scrambling to explain why between 2012 and 2014 his office spent more than $30,000 of taxpayer money on a debate coach.... His main explanation so far? Silence and a firmly slammed door. After Channel 2 Action News reporter Justin Gray, who went through Broun's office's financial records and discovered the payments to Brett O'Donnell, whom the Raw Story describes as "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," Gray attempted to get an on-camera response from Broun. But Broun wasn't in the mood, choosing instead to escape to his office.
If there was a March Madness tournament for "Politicians Who Frequently Say Bizarre Things," there's no doubt that Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.) would be a #1 seed. The right-wing Georgian might even be favored to win the whole competition.
Putting together a list of Broun's greatest hits is difficult -- my personal favorite was when the congressman, a member of the House Science Committee, said cosmology, biology, and geology are quite literally "lies straight from the pit of Hell" -- and Right Wing Watch's collection of Broun stories is several pages long.
So perhaps it's not too surprising that Broun, now a leading U.S. Senate candidate, hired a rhetoric coach, though it does seem odd that he's used our money to do so.
Perhaps the coach never got around to prepping the congressman on how to deal with a journalist asking an awkward question?
After Broun fled from the local reporter, his office issued a statement explaining that the congressman did use taxpayer money to pay a former debate coach, but the funds were used so "Broun can best communicate his legislative priorities, issues, and message with his constituents."
Stepping back, there are a couple of angles to keep in mind. First, as Ed Kilgore noted, if Broun paid Brett O'Donnell to help with Broun's Senate candidacy, that's a problem -- campaign aides are supposed to be paid with campaign funds, not tax dollars.
Second, it's hard not to wonder whether Broun is a good student when it comes to accepting guidance from his rhetoric coach. After all, if O'Donnell joined the congressman's team in 2012, we might expect to see an improvement in Broun's public remarks since then, but we haven't. He seems every bit as unhinged now as he did in 2011.
To be sure, it's understandable that the Georgia Republican would get some communications suggestions. It wasn't too long ago that Broun insisted that President Obama only believes in supporting “the Soviet constitution.” The congressman, an apparent Birther, has also said cap-and-trade might kill people; the Affordable Care Act will dictate what kind of car Americans can drive; the health care law reminds him of “Northern Aggression”; and he considers the president a Hitler-like figure intent on establishing a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship on Americans.
In 2010, Broun even argued that the Centers for Disease Control might “give all the power to the federal government to force you” to eat healthier foods, which would include the CDC “calling you to make sure you eat fruits and vegetables, every day. This is socialism of the highest order!”
Maybe the congressman needs more than one coach to give hin a hand in this area.