An Oklahoma lawmaker had a heated exchange with his constituents at a town hall event Tuesday, prompting him to tell the crowd that it was "bullcrap" to claim they were the ones paying his salary.
U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, a Republican in his third term, held the forum in Jay, Okla., and didn't appreciate one of the questions, which was based on the premise that his constituents are the ones paying his congressional salary.
"I'm going to address two things: One, you said you pay for me to do this? Bullcrap, I pay for myself," Mullin said quickly. "I paid enough taxes before I ever got there and continue to through my company to pay my own salary. This is a service. No one here pays me to go."
"I do it as an honor and a service," he added.
Several audience members spoke up, challenging his position. "Who pays you to go there?" one audience member can be heard asking.
Mullin did not directly answer, but instead doubled down on his previous claim: "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."
The residents in the crowd again responded, with one remarking, "Oh please! Then don't run."
According to his office, Mullin, a businessman who owns several plumbing companies, was referring to the taxes he paid as a business owner for many years.
"The congressman is referencing the federal taxes that he and his businesses have paid to the government over the years, prior to being in office,” spokeswoman Amy Lawrence said, according to the Tulsa World. “Like all business owners, Congressman Mullin pays his taxes, which contribute to congressional salaries."
"The congressman reiterates in the video that his work as a representative of the Second District of Oklahoma is a service,” she added. "His aspiration is to be a career legislator and not a career politician. He is not, nor does he ever aspire to be, a career politician. His priority will always be to serve his constituents to the best of his ability."
Mullin has not yet decided whether he will seek a fourth term.