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11:23 AM Sun, Feb. 17th

Gosar bristles, says questions off base

A question from a Ron Gould supporter at the Republican Men's Club meeting Monday raised the hackles of U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar.

Ray Cullison challenged Gosar over a recent spat of ads attacking Arizona Sen. Ron Gould over taking Clean Elections money to run for the Arizona Senate in 2004.

Gould and Gosar are competing against each other for the Republican nomination for Arizona's District 4 U.S. House of Representatives seat.

Clean Elections is a program run by the State of Arizona that is supposed to help even the playing field between candidates who don't have a lot of money and those who are able to raise a lot of money.

Cullison pointed out that Gov. Jan Brewer and several other state elected officials used Clean Elections dollars to run for office.

"Are we all bad by doing that?" he asked.

And what about Gosar using more than $100,000 of taxpayer funds to mail information from his office, Cullison asked.

The franking privilege allows members of Congress to mail information to people in their district at the expense of the U.S. government. According to a 2011 report from the Congressional Research Service, U.S Representatives are prohibited from sending any mass mailings using their franking privilege 90 days before a federal or primary election in which they are a candidate for office.

The privilege may not be used to solicit money or votes, contain information related to political campaigns, political parties, biographical accounts or holiday greetings.

"Part of our budget (as a representative) is franking to discuss with people what we are doing and how we are doing it - to engage people," Gosar said.

He has been trying to get around using the franking privilege by using Internet video to connect with his constituents, but the Congressional Budget Office has not okayed it as an alternative.

"Last year, the House had a 5 percent cut in their budget. I went everywhere, I have four offices, I did franking and I returned $80,000 to the treasury," Gosar said. "More than any other Republican in this state (and) with the 10th largest district in the country."

"I need to be able to engage people and people don't have computers or don't want to use them. So, yes I do (use the franking privilege)," he said.

Cullison pointed out that Gosar had used three times the amount of money in franking privileges as the next closest Republican in the U.S. House.

"I believe your name is Ray, sir? What's the next biggest (congressional) district in Arizona size wise? You want to take a gander on that? Four hundred and thirty five districts in this country," Gosar asked.

"Sir, you talk of one person's wasteful spending of taxpayers' dollars ..." Cullison started to say.

"I just showed you I did (save taxpayer dollars)," Gosar interrupted. "By the way, all of my ads are fact checked by independent sources. Everything that I've done is independently fact checked. Everything I've said, I'm accountable for."

"But I think there's another (question) here," he said picking up one of the sheets of paper Cullison had distributed among the tables

"'I'm the only Republican who voted to fund ACORN,'" Gosar read off the paper. "Are you kidding? When did ACORN cease to exist?"

ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) was an organization that worked to improve the lot of low-income families.

It came under scrutiny in 2009 after videos were released that allegedly showed ACORN workers telling two undercover conservative activists how to avoid taxes. There were also allegations of voter registration fraud. The organization was eventually cleared but closed in 2010.

"It ceased to exist after April 10, 2010. Find me someone who answers to chairman or president of ACORN after April 10," Gosar challenged Cullison. "You can't. I didn't take office until 2011. So let's be careful with our facts."