An Oklahoma congressman is facing criticism after telling a group of his constituents at a town hall that they do not pay his salary. Representative Markwayne Mullin claimed he paid enough federal taxes to fund his own salary.
"You say you pay for me to do this? That's b******p. I pay for myself. I paid enough taxes before I got here and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go," Mullin was filmed saying to the audience at a town hall in Jay, Oklahoma, according to KFOR.
Several audience members can be heard objecting to Mullein's remarks in a video that has since gone viral.
"I'm just saying this is a service for me, not a career, and I thank God this is not how I make my living," Mullin continued.
"Oh please, then don't run," a constituent replies.
Mullin, a Republican representative for Oklahoma's second district, owns several companies under the Mullin Plumbing umbrella, the Tulsa World reported. The congressman's spokeswoman confirmed to the newspaper that Mullin was referring to the federal taxes he and his company have paid over the years.
"The congressman is referencing the federal taxes that he and his businesses have paid to the government over the years, prior to his being in office," spokeswoman Amy Lawrence said. "Like all business owners, Congressman Mullin pays his taxes, which contribute to congressional salaries."
According to the Tulsa World, in another video, which looks to have been taken in another location, Mullin adds, "I'm paying more taxes inside my company and personally than I'll ever receive from Congress."
"The congressman reiterates in the video that his work as the representative of the Second District of Oklahoma is a service," Lawrence said. "His aspiration is to be a career legislator and nor a career politician. He is not, nor does he every aspire to be, a career politician. His priority will always be to serve his constituents to best of his ability."
Mullin, who is in his third term in office, has not announced whether he will seek re-election.
The Oklahoma congressman is not the only Republican to attend contentious town halls while Congress has been on recess, CNN noted. Representative Joe Wilson (R-SC), known for shouting "you lie" during President Obama's 2009 address to Congress, faced constituents chanting "you lie" at him during a town hall meeting on 10 April.
Wilson told the audience he had supported a local solicitor in an effort to prosecute those who commit violence against women. However, Wilson voted against reauthorising the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.