A former campaign consultant to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign who also advised former Georgia Rep. Paul Broun has pleaded guilty to lying to congressional investigators over funds he received from Broun.
According to WBAL, Brett O’Donnell acknowledged that $43,000 he was paid by Broun between 2012-2014 was remuneration for political advice, not for doing official business for Broun’s office. Broun was running for the Senate at the time. O’Donnell said he had made “false statements” to the Office of Congressional Ethics, which investigates questionable activity by members of the House of Representatives.
O’Donnell could face five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine, but because he pled guilty, the sentence may be reduced.
O’Donnell attested that he had been concerned that if he stopped providing advisorial services to Broun, Broun would no loner employ him as a consultant.
When rumors floated in 2014 of Broun’s use of official funds to pay political advisers, Broun’s office informed O’Donnell that he was no longer needed. Broun’s chief of staff stated to O’Donnell that the Office of Congressional Ethics could go “f*** themselves.” The chief of staff added that when O’Donnell spoke to investigators he should deny he was on Broun’s payroll and assert he was a volunteer.
The Office of Congressional Ethics has sent various cases to the House Ethics Committee of impropriety among House members in which they used official House staff or accounts for campaign business. O’Donnell is the first alleged suspect to plead guilty. Broun is immune from punishment because he is out of office.
O’Donnell has served as chief strategist for Michele Bachmann’s 2012 presidential campaign, helped Mitt Romney prepare for presidential primary debates in Florida in 2012, and served as director of messaging for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. He also guided House Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rogers, whose office was rumored to have unethically used official funds for political work. O’Donnell left Romney’s campaign amid rumors that Romney’s campaign thought O’Donnell took too much credit for Romney’s Florida success.