HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) — Former longtime Huntsville-area Congressman Mo Brooks is the subject of an ethics complaint filed with the Alabama Republican Party related to his recent comment that “Communist China” opposed his election and supported his opponents in the 2022 U.S. Senate race, News 19 has learned.
The complaint submitted by Alabama Board of Education member Dr. Wayne Reynolds took issue with remarks Brooks made during a May 17 radio interview with Montgomery-based WACV.
Brooks told News 19 Thursday he was not aware of a complaint being filed but took issue with any suggestion he violated the GOP’s ethical rules.
In WACV’s online recording of the interview, Brooks addresses a number of China-related concerns, including the United States trade imbalance with China, China’s labor practices and China’s efforts to influence U.S. elections.
In the course of the discussion, Brooks also said:
“Communist China is very much aware of my views. And so they did everything they could to assist the election of somebody else to the United States Senate in 2022.”
When News 19 asked Brooks about the comment on Thursday, he said, “‘Somebody else’ in my comment referred to anyone not named Mo Brooks.”
Brooks told News 19 that his comments on several China-related issues, including closing Confucius Institutes, advocating for fair trade laws, building up the U.S. military to stop Chinese expansion and supporting Taiwan, “unquestionably caught their eye.”
Reynolds, in his complaint, cites an article about the interview posted by 1819.com, and wrote, “I supported and voted for Katie Britt. I nor anyone I know of were influenced by the Communist Party or the Chinese Government. Senator Britt won because the Republicans of Alabama preferred her over Mo Brooks.”
“This report indicates Mo Brooks asserts Alabama Republicans were influenced and/or deceived by Communist China and voted based on the actions and influence by the Communist Chinese. This is unethical behavior that harms the Alabama Republican Party and impugns the validity of our Party election process,” Reynolds continued.
Brooks, a six-term congressman from Huntsville, was defeated in his U.S. Senate bid by now-Senator Katie Britt in the Republican Party runoff last June.
Sean Ross, who served as Britt’s communications director during the 2022 U.S. Senate campaign, took issue with Brooks’ remarks.
“His latest comments are detached from reality, an insult to Alabama voters, and an embarrassment to the Alabama Republican Party,” Ross said. “Senator Britt has done more to stand up to the Chinese Communist Party in six months than Congressman Brooks did in four decades. That’s one of the many reasons Alabama elected Katie Britt to the U.S. Senate.”
Brooks currently serves as the District 5 Representative on the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee. In that role he is a member of the Alabama GOP’s Steering Committee which leads the party’s operations, said Alabama Republican Party Chairman John Wahl.
Wahl said Thursday a complaint against Brooks has been filed. He said the complaint will be reviewed by the state party’s Ethics Committee. Wahl said typically the subject of the complaint is notified and given time to respond. He said the committee will hold a meeting at some point where both sides are allowed to explain their thoughts.
Wahl said there is no set timeframe for this process, which is governed by the committee. Shannon Terry, a Lawrence County resident, chairs the party’s Ethics Committee. Terry had not responded to News 19’s requests for comment about the Brooks complaint at the time of publication.
Wahl said if a Steering Committee member is found to have violated the party’s ethics rules, that person would be removed from the Steering Committee.
Brooks told News 19 the Alabama GOP “has no ethics rules that come anywhere close to coming into play. I did not say Communist China helped any of my opponents.”
Brooks added, “I did say Communist China opposed me, which does not make me special in any way. It merely means I stand for things Communist China does not like (fair trade policies, strong military, etc.).”
Brooks said, “Communist China (and a number of other countries) use the influences they have at their disposal to help ensure the advancement of Communist China’s interests… Many countries do the same.”
Reynolds, who is also a member of the Alabama Republican Party Executive Committee and the Limestone County Executive Committee, said Brooks’ election defeat was not due to Chinese influence.
“The essence of the remarks is that the Chinese Communist Party influenced the votes of Republican Primary voters,” Reynolds told News 19. “That is on its face disturbing and inappropriate … for a gentleman who lost every county in the state except one, including his own.”
Reynolds said he has confidence the Alabama GOP’s Ethics Committee will follow through on the complaint and allow Brooks to respond.
“The Alabama Republican Party Ethics Committee functions efficiently and I do not have any reason to think that they will not,” he said. “I have faith in the Alabama Republican Party and the Ethics Committee, that’s why I have reason to believe this will happen.”
Brooks said he looked forward to facing any allegations related to his comments.
“Give me ten minutes of time to respond to my accuser face-to-face and I will expose my accuser for the dangerously naive person he is. It would be a very enjoyable experience rebutting someone who is ill-informed and poorly equipped.”