In Attleboro, Massachusetts, most people know Paul Heroux as the mayor or their former three-term state representative. But for Russians who watch RT, the state-funded Russian TV station, Heroux is a Middle East expert.
How did that happen? "They saw my credentials," Heroux explained. "I graduated from Harvard, the London School of Economics, lived in the Middle East, and so they invited me on to speak."
Heroux, who grew up on Attleboro's main drag, wasn't particularly interested in politics or the Middle East until the September 11 attacks, when he learned that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.
U.S. & World
"Instead of constantly reading about them or hearing about them on the news, what the country is like, I decided to go in for my own opinions by living there for six months," he said.
Heroux taught English and lived among the locals. When he returned to the U.S., he was contacted to do analysis by the BBC, Australian radio and RT.
There has been criticism that contributing to RT, under the control of President Vladimir Putin, only serves to legitimize Putin's anti-democracy agenda.
"People say that RT is the propaganda arm of the Russian government," Heroux said. "Well, some people say that FOX News is the propaganda arm of the Republican Party."
Heroux posts all his interviews on his Facebook page and says he answers all questions the same way he would answer his constituents.
"It's a good idea to share information and to have that dialogue," Heroux said. "If they were in the habit of butchering what I said, I wouldn't do that. Absolutely not. But they're not."
As a Democrat, Heroux says speaking his mind has required him to be critical of President Trump.
"I believe he's in way over his head," Heroux said. "I don't think he knows what he's doing."
Since 2011, Heroux says he's appeared on the Russian network almost 40 times. He says he will continue to share his commentary.