One of the downsides of being in the public eye is that far more attention is paid to one’s gaffes and controversies than to one’s accomplishments. Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S., who is currently serving his fifth term in Congress as the representative from Arizona’s Fourth Congressional District, is a prime example of that truism. First elected to the US House of Representatives in 2010, he was a practicing dentist in Flagstaff from 1989 to 2010 and was named the Arizona Dental Association’s “Dentist of the Year” in 2001. Yet despite being elected to public office without any prior experience in politics, he was recognized as one of the hardest working and most effective new members of Congress in 2012. During his second term, six of his bills were signed into law by the president, and 24 of his amendments passed the House.
Still, what really drew national attention wasn’t his legislative accomplishments but his three minutes of questioning President Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, when he appeared before the House Oversight Committee in February 2019 and testified against the president. Utilizing the schoolyard taunt “liar, liar, pants on fire” to express his disdain for Cohen, Gosar’s taunt quickly went viral.
Like all four of Arizona’s Republican members of the House, Gosar is a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and has been an outspoken supporter of the president. Considered a hawk on border security and illegal immigration and described as “one of the staunchest opponents in Congress to legalizing undocumented dreamers” (immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children), he and Mr. Trump share many of the same world views, as well as a penchant for in-your-face, provocative statements.
He was the only member of Congress who boycotted Pope Francis’ address to a joint session of Congress on September 24, 2015. In an op-ed on a conservative website, he announced that he wouldn’t attend the Pope’s planned address unless he spoke about issues like “violent Islam.” Accusing Francis of having “adopted all of the socialist talking points,” he explained that he would treat the Pope in the same way that he believed all “leftist politicians” should be treated.
Then there were comments that drew even stronger rebuke from liberal circles. During a televised interview in October 2017, he suggested that the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, had been planned by “an Obama sympathizer,” and that liberal activist George Soros might have been a Nazi collaborator as a youth. He also called for the arrest and deportation of undocumented immigrants who attended Trump’s State of the Union address in 2018 at the invitation of Democratic members of Congress, including those from Arizona.
That year, six of his nine siblings appeared in campaign ads for his Democratic opponent, David Brill, prompting his mother to come to his defense. But Gosar ended up defeating Brill in the November 2018 general election with over 68% of the vote.
Gosar makes frequent references to his former occupation, once suggesting at a congressional hearing that his training as a dentist made him an expert on body language. “By the way,” he told a witness. “I’m a dentist, okay? I read body language very, very well. And I watched you comment in your actions with [former US Representative Trey] Gowdy. You got very angry with the Gold Star father. That shows me that it’s an innate part of you and a bias.”