Ethics panel to extend investigation of Georgia congressman's hiring of campaign consultant

An outside ethics review has found "substantial reason to believe" that Rep. Paul Broun, R-Georgia, violated House rules and federal law by using official House funds to hire a consultant for debate preparations and other campaign work.

The independent Office of Congressional Ethics said in a report released Wednesday that Broun paid GOP political consultant Brett O'Donnell nearly $44,000 from June 2012 to March 2014 using his official allowance as a member of Congress.

Lawmakers are barred from using official funds for campaign purposes. O'Donnell worked for Broun during his 2012 re-election campaign and a failed Senate campaign this year.

The House Ethics Committee said it was continuing an investigation into Broun's actions, although action is considered unlikely before Broun retires from Congress in January.

Broun, who has served four terms representing northeastern Georgia, said in a statement that he is cooperating with the committee and will continue to do so throughout its review.

"I am confident that I acted in compliance with all House rules, and I look forward to a favorable resolution of this matter," Broun said.

The Office of Congressional Ethics is an outside organization that can refer cases to the House committee.

The report said Broun hired O'Donnell's firm, O'Donnell & Associates, in June 2012, as a "communications and messaging consultant" to Broun's official office.

House members are barred from hiring consultants for their congressional offices. According to a congressional handbook, House members may hire "contractors," but only for general, nonlegislative and nonfinancial services such as equipment maintenance, web services, data entry or training.

O'Donnell received just one payment from Broun's campaign office — an $838 travel reimbursement in April 2013, the report said.



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