Keeping an Eye on Athens’ Congressional Representation

Georgia’s tenth district is represented in Congressional House of Representatives by republican Paul Broun, Jr.

This congressional district encompasses most of Northeast Georgia and includes 20 counties, an approximate population of 629,702, and the cities Augusta and Athens.

A University of Georgia graduate, Broun keeps a residence in Athens. Before running for public office, Broun worked as a physician in the Classic City. He also graduated from Georgia Medical College.

Following the death of Rep. Charlie Norwood in 2007, a special election was held to name his replacement. Broun defeated democrat Jim Whitehead in that election and took office on July 25, 2007.

The Center for Responsive Politics is a national, nonprofit, independent research group that tracks the monetary effect in U.S. politics. In their 27th year of existence, the Center operates the website OpenSecrets.org, which contains information on lobbying, elections, and individual politicians.

This organization is just one of many that seek to inform voters and keep politicians accountable for their decisions.

As of the Center’s last report on March 31, 2010, Broun has gathered a total of $1,227,123 for the 2009-2010 campaign cycle.

Of that total, Broun has spent $1,071,052, according to the report.

Individual contributions make up $1,049,898 (86%) of this total. An additional $164,004 (13%) came from Political Action Committees (PACs), according to the information on OpenSecrets.org.
Political action committees are private groups that advocate for specific political candidates or political issues.

Broun contributed none of his own money to his campaign.
Two-thirds of Broun’s contributions have been generated from within Georgia. Among metro-areas, Athens contributed more money to Broun’s office than any other.

During the last year, the top contributor in Broun’s name is a PAC named Every Republican is Crucial, who sent $10,000 Broun’s way. The University of Georgia also donated $3,500, making it one of the top 25 contributors.

Three organizations on that list of top 25 contributors fall into the medical field, Broun’s original profession. Those organizations include the American Associations of Clinical Urologists, of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and that of Anesthesiologists.

Broun’s office spent that money in a number of ways.

Within those expenditures, the majority (32%) went towards a reelection campaign. Thirty-one percent are considered administrative fees. 

During the past year in office, Broun has sponsored 26 bills sent before Congress, according to OpenSecrets.org. The average representative sponsored 13 bills during that same span, but quantity does not always indicate quality.

Of these proposed pieces of legislation, almost all show a certain conservative leaning in Broun’s policies.

During 2009, Broun sponsored a bill “encouraging the President to designate 2010 as the ‘National Year of the Bible,'” according to information on the Library of Congress’ website.

In the same year, he supported bills for the sanctity of marriage and the sanctity of life.

His last sponsored bill to pass through the House expressed “support for designation of the first weekend of May [2010] as Ten Commandments Weekend,” according to the Library of Congress.

Although not unpredictable for someone with his republican affiliation, these efforts do little to address issues directly facing Athens.

Of those 26 bills, only one had a direct impact on Athens.

On March 19 of last year, Broun passed a motion to congratulate the University of Georgia Gymnastics team for winning the 2009 NCAA National Championship. This practice is not uncommon for members of congress, but isn’t entirely helpful either.

On his own website, http://www.broun.house.gov, Broun lists health care, homeland security, second amendment rights, tax reform, and water management as his priority issues. Of these, only water management makes direct reference to his district.

Broun’s address of water management seeks to address the low water levels in the lakes and rivers of Northeast Georgia. No legislation sponsored by Broun in the past year has sought to address this issue.

Personally, Broun is a supporter of the second amendment as evidenced by his membership of the NRA and Athens Rifle Club.

These personal opinions seem to reflect in his policies more so than the concerns of his constituents in Athens.

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