Congressman who closed door on Channel 2 not alone in questionable spending

by: Justin Gray Updated:

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WASHINGTON - Channel 2 Action News was the first to tell you about questionable spending by a Georgia congressman running for the U.S. Senate.
 

When Channel 2’s Justin Gray tried to ask Rep. Paul Broun about how he was using taxpayer money, he shut a door in Gray's face.
 
Now Gray has been getting a lot of questions from viewers about the story, wondering how taxpayer money can be used for a campaign consultant.
 
Gray obtained documents that showed Broun paid $33,000 in taxpayer money to O’Donnell and Associates, a company that advertises its services as campaign consultation and debate preparation.
 
Channel 2’s viewers had a lot to say about it on Facebook and Twitter.
 
On the WSB-TV Facebook page, Alana Godwin wrote “while he complains about others wasting tax dollars, he thinks he is 'entitled' to waste them. Double standard.”
 
Gray asked for specific examples of how O'Donnell serves constituents.
 
Broun's office says O’Donnell preps the congressman for media appearances like a recent stop on FOX Business channel.
 
And after a visit to the Augusta VA, O'Donnell helped Broun draft a floor speech and an op-ed.
 
“Anybody else who’s running would have to spend their own $33,000 to help them on coaching,” said Melanie Sloan with Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington.  
 
But the issue is bigger than Broun.
 
Rep. Phil Gingrey sent out a glossy mailing using taxpayer money.
 
All three congressmen running for the Senate have done it.
 
Broun spent the most with $332,000.
 
In a written statement, Broun said, “Several other members of congress also use O'Donnell and Associates’ services.”
 
That's true. Michele Bachman and Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who gave the Republican response to the State of the Union address, hired O’Donnell in the past.
 
All together, taxpayers paid the campaign consultant $109,000 just since 2012.
 
Broun's office maintains O'Donnell serves constituents, not the campaign. A spokesman said he meets with staff every week to plan his media strategy.