Congressman Broun's use of campaign funds questioned

Friday, March 23, 2012 7:06 AM
Last updated 7:13 AM
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ATHENS, Ga. -- Almost $30,000 in campaign contributions wound up in U.S. Rep. Paul Broun’s wallet in the form of interest on personal loans he made to his campaign, according to an ethics report released Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun  Morris News Service
Morris News Service
U.S. Rep. Paul Broun

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonpartisan nonprofit, and the watchdog Web site Open Secrets examined campaign finance records and found that Broun -- whose district represents a large part of the Augusta area -- and 247 other congressmen “use their positions to financially benefit themselves or family members.”

Broun’s campaign committee paid the congressman $28,756 in interest on $309,000 in personal loans he made to bankroll his underfunded 2007 and 2008 races, even though the committee told the Federal Election Commission the loans were interest-free, CREW reported.

“Most Americans open savings accounts when they want to earn a little interest on their money,” CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan said. “Rep. Broun raked in nearly $30,000 in interest on loans he made to his campaign, essentially diverting campaign donations to his own pocket.”

Federal law allows campaigns to pay a reasonable commercial interest rate on loans, but the rate paid to Broun was “awfully high,” Sloan said.

She also called reimbursements to Broun for campaign expenses “quite high” compared to other congressmen, and said constituents have no way of knowing if the expenses are legitimate.

The Paul Broun Committee reimbursed him $167,322 for mileage, dry cleaning, postage, office supplies, advertising, direct mail and other expenses in 2009 and 2010, according to CREW. He was reimbursed $1,625 and his wife $626 for similar expenses during the 2008 election cycle.

Broun’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The report also names Georgia Democratic Reps. Hank Johnson, Sanford Bishop, John Lewis and David Scott, and Republican Reps. Jack Kingston, Austin Scott and Phil Gingrey.

Other questionable campaign expenses in the 347-page report include the $30,000 Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., paid to stay at a five-star hotel in Athens, Greece, and $500,000 Rep. Jerry Lewis, D-Calif., paid his wife, who works in his congressional office.

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Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 03/23/12 - 07:37 am
5
1
Gosh is this guy a

Gosh is this guy a Republican? Ya wouldn't know it by the article. But that's normal news for this "newspaper" ain't it.

Shades of the Ken Ard story last week.

Riverman1
86742
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Riverman1 03/23/12 - 07:39 am
3
0
Until I saw the "247 other

Until I saw the "247 other congressmen" I was going to ask if anyone actually believed campaign funds didn't end up in the pockets of the candidates. On the national, state and positively the LOCAL level campaign funds are loosely examined and the candidates can divert the funds to friends who have a shell business or purpose for being paid.

It's unreal the local campaign chests some accumulate because the person giving the money wants some kind of favor. In Columbia County we had a Commissioner giving thousands out of his campaign funds to a BOE member, who just happened to be his best friend. Broun is no more crooked that the rest of them.

Retired Army
17512
Points
Retired Army 03/23/12 - 07:53 am
5
2
River Writes "Broun is no

River Writes "Broun is no more crooked that the rest of them."

Wow! That's a ringing endorsement if ever I heard one. :)

Broun was under a cloud when he last ran and was at best a "hold yer nose" Republican candidate. How Columbia county Republicans let a fine man like Jim Whitehead lose to this charlatan is beyond most of us.

Riverman1
86742
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 08:10 am
3
0
Retired Army, I'm no fan of

Retired Army, I'm no fan of Paul Broun. If you only knew how much I was involved trying to keep him from Congress. Matter of fact, you could ask the writer of this story, Blake Aued, about things I discovered and brought out. He knows me and my info ended up in columns in Athens and locally. I was a Whitehead, Fleming supporter. But to be quite fair to Broun, he's only one of 247. Plus, local politicians shrug as if that's the way it is.

Austin Rhodes
2903
Points
Austin Rhodes 03/23/12 - 08:38 am
2
0
If the law was broken

If the law was broken PROSECUTE...if the laws are vague, fix them.

It is actually a pretty simple process. You just have to do it.

Little Lamb
46826
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Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 08:43 am
2
0
From the article: Federal law

From the article:

Federal law allows campaigns to pay a reasonable commercial interest rate on loans, but the rate paid to Broun was “awfully high,” Melanie Sloan said.

Okay, this group CREW is “questioning” something they know to be legal.

And whining about the high interest rate shows they are either vindictive toward Broun or they do not understand basic finance principles. Sure, Broun is an established incumbent now, but in 2007 and 2008 he was a virtual unknown. He was running against established politicians with well-oiled machines. In other words, he was a bad credit risk. It is well established that bad credit risks pay higher interest than safe, well-established borrowers.

Little Lamb
46826
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Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 08:47 am
0
0
Hey, RM, I'm guessing since

Hey, RM, I'm guessing since you live on the River that you will not get the chance to vote against Broun any more. Will you be in the newly-drawn district 12? That's going to be an interesting race. Rick Allen is playing the part of Romney. Maria Sheffield is obviously Michelle Bachman. Wright McLeod is the Santorum channeller. Who is Lee Anderson?

Riverman1
86742
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 08:51 am
1
0
Lee Anderson has land up next

Lee Anderson has land up next to the guy I work with. He's actually a pretty down to earth, friendly guy, according to my partner. He comes out and personally does work on his land. But we knew that already.

LL, about Broun lending himself money, that's about the first time in Broun's history where he could loan anyone anything. Going bankrupt is his usual mode.

Little Lamb
46826
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Little Lamb 03/23/12 - 09:06 am
3
0
Austin Rhodes wrote: If the

Austin Rhodes wrote:

If the law was broken PROSECUTE...if the laws are vague, fix them.

Actually, the way the legislators write their own ethics laws, prosecution almost never comes into play. They just censure and fine each other. And the fines are paid out of campaign war chests.

itsanotherday1
45276
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itsanotherday1 03/23/12 - 09:17 am
0
0
@ Retired Army: "Broun

@ Retired Army:

"Broun touted his medical background, claiming he was perhaps the only physician in Georgia who regularly made house calls. “I’ve got an old-fashioned medical bag,” he said. “My office is my GMC Yukon.” Broun said he opposed any steps to permit illegal immigrants to gain legal status, highlighted his connections to Christian conservatives on social issues, and also reached out to African-Americans and other Democrats, especially in Athens. Whitehead talked up his Augusta-area roots and complained about his Athens-based opposition. Whitehead had a considerable advantage in campaign dollars. Still, Broun won with 50.4%, just 394 votes ahead of Whitehead, with 49.6%. Broun carried Athens’s Clarke County with a remarkable 90%, while holding Whitehead to 73% in Columbia County. He also won 12 other counties."

At 73%, I don't think it was ColCo's "fault". Whitehead stuck both feet in his mouth with the "Liberal UGA" comment.

http://www.nationaljournal.com/almanac/person/paul-broun-ga/

resident
501
Points
resident 03/23/12 - 09:50 am
2
1
Everyone like to bad mouth

Everyone like to bad mouth people about their actions good,bad, or indifferent. What was done to my understanding was legal so this discussion is dead even if interest is high, Credit cards do this every day charging 29% on items. I do not see people stating he makes an honest effort to listen to his constituents, he hold town meetings, he has telephone sessions, his office actually responds when you suggest things. So why is it everyone is talking bad about him. This is what they are supposed to do, we do not always agree and it is basically impossible to please everyone. He is outspoken and I know that if you actually read his page and keep up with the real world you would see for the most part he is actually trying to accomplish what he promised. This free handout stuff and extending benefit after benefit is bankrupting this country. He has proposed many bills trying to force balanced budgets but they get squashed by our corrupt broken system. I have to say he is the first candidate I have ever actually had that seems to genuinly care and not shake your hand and basically say go away he will take the time to listen even if he disagrees. I have lived in alot of places and had lots of reps but none I would realistically trust as much as him so far. Again I have my opinion and everyone is entitle to theirs but I am placing facts out there instead of emotion.

Riverman1
86742
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 10:13 am
1
0
There is a local non-profit

There is a local non-profit that I have questioned since day one. It pays the director close to $100,000 a year and has done little. It now has over $500,000 in the bank. It's greatest accomplishment it says is that it's arranged some meetings between government agencies. The people the money was intended to help have seen nothing.

Jane18
12332
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Jane18 03/23/12 - 10:24 am
1
0
Who are they, Riverman? Who?

Who are they, Riverman? Who? Who?

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 03/23/12 - 11:23 am
1
0
the problem Austin, is that

the problem Austin, is that the ^&%^*%#$ who do it write the laws.

Riverman1
86742
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Riverman1 03/23/12 - 01:18 pm
1
0
Jane18, I have posted links

Jane18, I have posted links with the tax reports of the organization and wrote extensively about this matter in the R and R's. I'll continue as I can, but I have to pick the best spots to bring the facts out since no one has done anything.

Although the director is the one doing this and using the funds for "travel" and so on, there are BIG names on their board of directors. I really dare local investigative reporters of any kind to jump into this matter. Email me if you are interested. Again, if anyone in the media is really interested and willing to report the FACTS, email me. I'm waiting.

Riverman1
86742
Points
Riverman1 03/23/12 - 02:12 pm
1
0
I'm going to remove this

I'm going to remove this because I've been led to believe I may have been presumptuous about the Chronicle.

noils
5
Points
noils 03/23/12 - 07:02 pm
1
0
I think it's great that the

I think it's great that the Chronicle printed a portion of the 344 page CREW report. I encourage everyone to read all or part of the report which I link below. One of the things the Chronicle omits is the dollar rankings of questionable practices among members of Congress. Some have shrugged off Dr. Broun's reimbursement of " $167,322 for mileage, dry cleaning, postage, office supplies, advertising, direct mail and other expenses in 2009 and 2010." That figure ranks third among all members of Congress. How can you claim more mileage expense than a Senator from Texas? I am also linking copies of all of Broun's claimed campaign receipts and expenses for your review.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/86116631/Family-Affair

http://images.nictusa.com/pdf/667/10990191667/10990191667.pdf#navpanes=0

Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 03/24/12 - 06:19 am
1
0
RM1, "There's not much

RM1,

"There's not much courage in Augusta, GA."

Not much, at all.

nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 03/24/12 - 07:02 am
0
0
Well I know Broun is a wasted
Unpublished

Well I know Broun is a wasted congressman. I needed to get something done in DC and Broun sits on that organization. He inquired and got a polite letter telling him to get out of their face. To me he is useless.

SteveSwimmer
225
Points
SteveSwimmer 03/24/12 - 10:39 pm
0
0
Thanks to Rep. Paul Broun and

Thanks to Rep. Paul Broun and his ilk, here, in Georgia we placed number 50 in ethics. Lowest in education; but, very proudly number 1 in incarceration rates.

After assessing transparency, accountability and anti-corruption mechanisms in all 50 states, the investigation by the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity and Public Radio International (PRI) decided the state of Georgia came in number 50, dead last for our entire Great Nation.

In Georgia, we were, for eons, majority staunch “yeller dog” Democrats, and no Republican representation was wanted. That is, until…, uh-oh: here come the Negroes.

Oh yes, then, ethics be damned, the White majority sent their “yeller dog” to the pound; and, with a giant whooshing sound found themselves new born Republicans.

Georgia is the long time home and major incubator for many of the most avid racists in the world. To this day the Georgia constituency knows full well our politics, while mostly hidden in polite company, is rife with racism.

Certainly, it does not take a PhD in Logic to plainly see: Georgia racists are all Republicans; and, Republicans who are not racists are in bed with the racists. Small wonder Georgia is dead last in ethics.

Today, our Republican majority, headed by our Gov. Nathan Deal, commands the largest prison (per capita) population in the world with over 1000 incarcerations per 100,000 people living here (by comparison, Minnesota imprisons 300 per 100,000).

With racists firmly in control, young Black males are 6 times more likely to be Georgia state prisoners than their White counter part. Yet, we all know: the Black kids are simply not that bad. How ethical is that?

Today, soaring incarceration costs have the budget cutter politicos saying: Well golly gee…, after all, we now realize we really don’t need to put all these non-violent people behind bars, we can use drug rehab programs for most of those now incarcerated and save oodles of money.

Good idea? What do you think? Of course, no such thinking was permitted audience until, ethics out the window, Gov. Nathan Deal’s family controlled major rehab interests.

Yes, there can be no question we have serious ethical problems; and, when it comes to the likes of Gov. Deal, Rep. Broun and their fellow travelers: well…, small wonder Georgia is dead last when it comes to ethics.

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