Georgia state Rep. Jason Spencer threatened to take legal action against “Hollywood liberals” on Monday to prevent Sacha Baron Cohen from airing embarrassing footage of him on his new comedy TV series.
The Woodbine Republican was one of several officials who were duped by Cohen, best known for the 2006 film “Borat.” Sarah Palin, the former vice presidential candidate, also said she was tricked into appearing on the British comedian’s “Who Is America?” program, which debuted Sunday on Showtime.
Spencer, who was defeated in the May GOP primary, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the show’s producers “took advantage of my fears that I would be attacked by someone” to convince him to appear on what he believed to be a training video for “elected officials who may be targeted by terrorists.”
“They exploited my state of mind for profit and notoriety,” said Spencer. “This media company’s deceptive and fraudulent behavior is exactly why President Donald Trump was elected.”
The footage has not yet been released, but another segment that aired this week featured several Republican lawmakers and gun rights supporters backing a fictitious program to teach kindergarteners to use firearms to protect against school shootings. (Watch it here.)
Spencer said he was “repeatedly asked to shout provocative language” during a kidnapping scenario he participated in, and that he was denied the chance to have final approval over what will air.
“It is clear the makers of this film intended to deceive me in an attempt to undermine the American conservative political movement,” he said, adding he will take legal action if “any of this fraudulently obtained footage of me is used by these Hollywood liberals to line their own pockets.”
Reached on his cellphone late Monday, Spencer declined further comment. Showtime has denied that Cohen or the show’s producers acted improperly.
Spencer was defeated by Steven Sainz, the executive director of a community planning agency, after four terms representing a conservative southeast Georgia district.
Though he had relatively little influence in the Georgia Legislature, Spencer often grabbed headlines that enraged Democrats and sometimes left his Republican colleagues aghast.
He faced calls for resignation late last year after he warned a black former state legislator that she won’t be “met with torches but something a lot more definitive” if she continues to call for the removal of Confederate statues in south Georgia.
And Republican leaders roundly criticized his legislative proposal that would bar women from wearing burqas on public property, forcing him to withdraw the legislation.
This year, he shifted his focus toward a bill that would have allowed adult survivors of child sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits. The bill didn’t pass amid stiff opposition from the Boy Scouts and some other nonprofit organizations.
Here’s Spencer’s full statement:
The makers of this film fraudulently induced me in participating in bogus self-defense and anti-terrorism training after they learned of the legislation I introduced in November 2016 that provoked death threats against me and my family. They took advantage of my fears that I would be attacked by someone inspired by the vile rhetoric used against me. I was told the video was intended to be an educational aid to train elected officials who may be targeted by terrorists. Threats to public officials are real as we have seen with the assassination attempt upon Congressman Steve Scalise’s life, which occurred one month prior to my contact with the film’s makers.
They exploited my state of mind for profit and notoriety. This media company’s deceptive and fraudulent behavior is exactly why President Donald Trump was elected. Furthermore, there are sensitive parts of this training that took place under a kidnapping scenario where I was repeatedly asked to shout provocative language which I requested be removed, but I was not afforded that opportunity to have final approval over footage used that was initially extended to me by the film makers.
It is clear the makers of this film intended to deceive me in an attempt to undermine the American conservative political movement; therefore, I have sought legal counsel to challenge this illegal and unethical behavior and plan on taking action if and when any of this fraudulently obtained footage of me is used by these Hollywood liberals to line their own pockets.