Paul Broun, the Georgia congressman who is running in the GOP primary for the Senate seat to be vacated by the retiring Saxby Chambliss, speaks loudly about his commitment to halting illegal immigration. However, his record suggests he is anything but committed.
According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Broun was assigned to the Border and Maritime
Security panel for two years, but in that time he attended fewer than 20% of its meetings, the least of any congressman on the panel. In addition, since he was elected to Congress in 2007 he has attended less than 40% of the meetings of the full Department of Homeland Security committee.
Although Broun voted against the DREAM Act on 2010, his attendance record has some concerned. D.A. King of the Dustin Inman Society, which fights for stricter immigration controls, said that Broun supported his organization strongly, but his attendance record is a problem. King stated, “I would be very interested in an explanation for those absences. Showing up matters.”
Two GOP rivals for the Senate seat have better attendance records. Rep. Jack Kingston, who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, which meets less often, has a perfect attendance record. Rep. Phil Gingrey, who serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Administration Committee, has a 75% attendance rate.
The three men have virtually identical voting records. Their percentages of missing votes are as follows: Kingston, 3.5%; Broun, 3.7%; and Gingrey, 3.9%. The median for congressmen is 2.3%.
Broun’s office explained his absences by noting that he serves on three committees and six subcommittees, and thus there are conflicting meetings. His spokeswoman Christine Hardman said, “While he may not always be physically present at every hearing, he is kept up to date on the issues and items of discussion by his staff.”
Yet a closer look at Broun’s record shows a consistent record of missing committee meetings because of his presence at fundraisers at places such as Johnny’s Half Shell, Art and Soul, a luncheon at the Capitol Hills Club, and a Washington Capitols hockey game.
Broun missed security sessions featuring Border Patrol Chief Michael Fisher, a session devoted to cutting off illicit drugs from Mexico, and one that concerned border laxity and visa issues that allowed the 9/11 hijackers to enter the United States.
But William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration, said of Broun, “We’d all like our members of Congress to attend these committee hearings. But that’s not as important to me as where he