The Corner

Broun and the Military: A Clarification

I have received the following from John Kennedy, Rep. Broun’s communications director:

I have been following the debate on the Corner, and would like to clarify a point that continues to be raised.

You write the following: “Nevertheless, when I read about that use of taxpayer money I don’t see a particularly good guy…”

Your quote relates to the statement attributed to me about military salaries that ran in the Army Times article about Congressman Broun’s “Military Honor and Decency Act”. I need to make the following clear: my quote does not reflect Congressman Broun’s opinion. It did not reflect his position when I made, and it does not reflect it now.

In the course of speaking with the Army Times, I was challenged as to whether or not taxpayer money was, in fact, being used to further the sale of pornographic magazines on military bases despite the ban on sexually explicit materials that was passed by Congress in 1997. In that interview, I offered several examples to bolster the link.

For example, it is a fact that taxpayers do subsidize the sale of pornographic materials through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES). Specific examples include the fact that taxpayers are asked to fund the transportation costs of AAFES merchandise, the military salaries of Department of Defense personnel assigned to the program, and the utilities costs in Department of Defense buildings used (rent free) by AAFES. When you consider that AAFES operates thousands of facilities worldwide, these costs are not insignificant. According to testimony offered in 2006 by General Paul Essex, who served at the time as the Commander of AAFES, federal taxpayers spent $142,000,000 in appropriated funding for transporting AAFES goods (including sexually explicit material intended to be banned by the 1997 law) alone. In general, taxpayers foot the bill for 2-4% of AAFES operating budget.

The statement attributed to me regarding military salaries was made in the course of an interview in which I failed in my responsibility to accurately portray Congressman Broun’s position. He does not share the view, attributed to me, which has since been repeated on the Corner. In attempting to describe the nexus of taxpayer funds involved in a purchase made on a military base, I made an ill-advised attempt to illustrate that one does not have to look too far to find a taxpayer connection in the transaction. Although I cited in general terms the examples provided above, the sole excerpt of my exchange with the reporter excluded those examples, running only a small quote that is both wrongheaded and inconsistent with the Congressman’s beliefs.

It is fair to debate the merits of Congressman Broun’s legislation, which seeks only to ensure that the 1997 law is implemented as intended, and the exchange on the Corner has been an interesting one to follow. It is unfair to Congressman Broun, however, for his position to be misrepresented based on my error, or for the merits of his legislation to be judged based on a partial and selective quote originating from my careless and imprecise explanation of the many ways in which taxpayers support AAFES activities.

And, although I may be biased, I can assure you that Congressman Broun, Marine and Medical Doctor, is indeed a “good guy.” I regret that my error is being used to impugn a good and decent man.