Meet The Congressman Who Assumed Two Senior U.S. Officials Were Foreigners

Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla. CREDIT: AP
Rep. Curt Clawson, R-Fla. CREDIT: AP

During a congressional hearing Thursday, Foreign Policy reports, a member of Congress mistakeningly assumed that two senior U.S. government officials were actually representing India.

The Congressman, Rep. Curt Clawson, told the officials “I love your country” and offered to do “anything… to make the relationship with India better.” The officials, Nisha Biswal and Arun Kumar, are both U.S. citizens who work for the Obama administration. Here’s the super awkward exchange:

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Clawson, a Republican from Florida, is not well known, having just been sworn in as a member of Congress on June 25. (He replaced Trey Redel who was busted for cocaine possession.)

Clawson had no political or government experience. He ran primarily on his 11-year tenure as CEO of an auto supply company, Hayes Lemmerz. His record became a source of controversy during the campaign, when opponents noted the company had multiple safety violations, including a massive explosion that killed one employee. He also closed seven plants, filed for bankruptcy and defaulted on the company’s pension obligations. (The federal government picked up the $93.7 million tab.)

He ran as an outsider and spent his own money freely, financing $2 million in ads. In one ad, Clawson, a former college basketball player, challenged Obama to a 3-point shooting contest. All this was enough for Rand Paul and the Tea Party Express, who both endorsed Clawson.

Late Friday, Clawson apologized for assuming the officials were from India. “I shot an air ball,” he said.