The conservative effort to block Kevin McCarthy from becoming Speaker of the House is so serious that they got Paul Broun to lead the charge.
You’ll remember Broun, the former Congressman from Georgia, from his insane comments on evolution, a lie “from the pit of hell”, his reference to the Civil War as “The Great War Of Yankee Aggression” and, of course, from the multi-year investigation by the House Ethics Committee and, more recently, the feds for allegedly paying for a consultant to help him with debate preparation with money from his own office. That investigation spread to Jody Hice, Broun’s House successor on Wednesday, which embroils him in a broader inquiry of possible FEC violations.
The consultant in question, Brett O’Donnell, plead guilty last month for lying to congressional investigators about the improper payment he received for his work on the Georgian’s campaign.
In the meantime, Broun’s leading the charge on FireMcCarthy.com, a site dedicated to depose the frontrunner for Speaker of the House before he takes the gavel.
“Rep. Kevin McCarthy is a ‘nice guy’ but that doesn’t mean he is qualified or conservative enough to lead the people’s House. Just like John Boehner, McCarthy scores terribly with conservatives,” the site reads.
Broun assembled quite a posse to help him with his pet project.
There’s Political Media, Inc., who have also created surefire conservative hits EndJeb2016.com, a campaign to stop the “FCC Takeover of the Internet” as well as an effort to “End Gun Free Zones”. “How many more mass shootings will it take?” a poster on the site asks.
Other groups have put their support behind Fire McCarthy including the Madison Project which has a similarly named “Dump McConnell” initiative and the Life and Liberty PAC which wants to recruit “100% pro-life candidates” to undo the problems of the “Obama regime.”
Given the number of “stop” and “end” efforts, you’d think these people would be ready with an answer for who or what they want instead.
You would be wrong.
Asked who would replace McCarthy—if he was “fired” for a job he did not yet hold, Broun said he doesn’t really know yet.
“There are a number of conservatives who would be a whole lot better than McCarthy,” Broun said in a phone interview. “There are a number of people who I worked with in Congress that I would like to see step forward. We’ve got to save America.”
“I don’t want to give you any specific names because i don’t know if they are willing to take on the hard jobs of working on these problems,” Broun said.
Since losing the primary for the Senate, Broun has kept himself busy, working at his medical practice from 8-8 and dealing with ethics investigators knocking at his door.
“They came one day and asked if they could look at my emails and my computer,” Broun explained unfazed. “I said sure why don’t you take it with you. It hasn’t worked properly ever since,” he said breaking into a hearty chuckle.
Broun’s chief of staff at the time, David Bowser, is quoted in the guilty plea as telling O’Donnell that the Office of Congressional Ethics can “go fuck themselves.” He urges O’Donnell to lie about the fact that he received $43,000 from Broun’s office to serve as a communications consultant.
“I’m totally perplexed about his plea,” Broun told me claiming the work for the campaign was “totally voluntary.” O’Donnell helped—as he did with George W. Bush, Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann—with debate preparation specifically opening and closing statements according to Broun.
Maybe he’s confused because he never handled finances for his own campaign.
“I was not the treasurer, I wasn’t writing checks,” Broun said, when I asked if it was possible that his staff members paid O’Donnell without him knowing. “I was the candidate. I was making decisions and my activities were geared towards my function as a candidate. I’m not a micromanager. I don’t have time as a candidate to be involved in micromanaging my staff or the activities of my staff.”
At least one other person heading up the “Fire McCarthy” efforts doesn’t know anything about the ethics investigation let alone whether it compromises Broun’s legitimacy.
“I don’t know anything about the investigation but I’m sure he’s innocent,” Larry Ward, president of Political Media Inc. said. He refers to McCarthy as “John Boehner without the orange spray tan.”
Republicans will vote Thursday to determine who they will put forward as their nominee for the speakership followed by a vote on the House floor on October 29.
O’Donnell faces a maximum of five years in prison on one count of making false statements. But Broun is taking it all in stride and will just rest easy when he knows a proper conservative has been hoisted to the third most important position in government.
“I’m certain that I will be fully exonerated when this is all over with,” he said.