The House Ethics Committee announced Monday that it will continue two investigations based on an October 2021 report from the Congressional Ethics Office Committee.
Both Newman and Lamborn have denied the allegations, each claiming the complaints are political in nature.
A spokesman for Newman said a “politically motivated right-wing group lodged a complaint with the Congressional Ethics Office”, adding that “material generated during the OCE review overwhelmingly indicates that the ethics complaint is completely unfounded.”
Lamborn’s spokeswoman, Cassandra Sebastian, said the congressman, who will work with the House Ethics Committee, “hopes to be completely innocent.”
“It is very disappointing that two disgruntled former staff members weaponized the ethics process for political and personal purposes,” she said.
The Congressional Ethics Office board voted unanimously to recommend further scrutiny of allegations that Newman “may have pledged federal employment to key opponents in order to gain political support” and determined that “there is good reason to believe” this may have happened.
Newman could face off against her Democratic colleague Rep. Sean Carsten in 2022 due to redistricting.
The Congressional Ethics Office reported that Newman had promised her campaign’s foreign policy adviser, Emen Chehard, to work in her congressional office, and the two sides signed a contract acknowledging that. After the job didn’t materialize, Chehad sued to enforce the contract, “alleging that his decision not to run for a congressional seat in 2020 was based on her promise to hire him as a foreign policy adviser and as regional or legislative director for the congressional office.”
Chehade did not cooperate with the board’s investigation and suggested the committee subpoena him.
The committee is expanding its scrutiny of Lamborn after the board voted unanimously on a report saying it had “sufficient reason to believe” that Lamborn was misusing official resources for personal and unofficial purposes.
Five witnesses, made up of current and former Lamborn employees, testified that at various points in time and under different circumstances, they were instructed to perform a range of activities, including running personal errands, performing campaign work, picking up mail, moving furniture, scheduling Zoom Calls, held a citizenship celebration for Lamborn’s daughter-in-law, and in one case helped Lamborn’s son through the federal job application process.
While Lamborn participated in preliminary interviews and provided preliminary documents to the committee, the committee said Lamborn declined to provide additional daily reports from the office, where staff record their unofficial errands. As a result, the committee said Lamborn “doesn’t cooperate with this review”.
The committee also revealed that the congressman’s chief of staff, Dale Anderson, did not cooperate with the investigation.
The board recommends that the next step committee issue subpoenas to Lamborn, Anderson, Peter Holland, Margaret Thrailkill and Wesley Harkins.
The report described Lamborn’s wife’s role in the office as “beyond the scope of a spouse’s permission”. She has an official email account, but outside of normal procedure, she “regularly” asks staff to help with campaign-related matters or personal errands during the week, according to the testimony. Staff also testified that she was involved in the decision-making process for hiring, firing and promotions.
For example, former district director Witness 1 recalled that Anderson said of Mrs. Lambourn asking for help during the workday: “If anyone asks, it’s — we have lunch by ourselves, but it will last two or three hours.”
A former staff member explained that Anderson made it clear that “Mrs Lambourne has priorities and if – no matter what – we’re doing something – we need everyone’s help, she’s always going to veto those. condition.”
The former staffer added that in Anderson explained “then Mrs Lamborn would say that if mum isn’t happy, nobody’s going to be happy.”
Rep. Lamborn was asked if his wife had instructed congressional staff to move furniture in the house during her private time, and Lamborn recalled that this happened “at least once, or maybe every — maybe twice.” .
Asked if his wife had ever asked staff to assist with personal matters, the congressman told the committee, “My understanding is that my wife would not do it because the ethics rules of Congress really don’t allow it, And she’s “according to the report.
In 2020, when Lambourne’s daughter-in-law became a naturalized citizen, the Lamborn and Andersons directed staff to plan and hold a celebration at their district office in Lambourne, the report said.
“That day, I thought, how am I going to be compensated? And, Dale Anderson laughed again,” Witness 1 said.
In 2020, Witness 5 testified that Anderson directed him to assist Lamborn’s son with the job application process before he was eventually hired by the Pentagon. Witness 5 said he spent “several hours providing extensive instruction,” which included reviewing his resume, evaluating federal job postings and assisting with mock interview questions. Witness 5 even recalled helping Lamborn’s son prepare for the interview over the weekend.
The investigation also found that staff said they were being asked to hold celebrations in the office on special occasions such as Christmas and birthdays, which included gifts from all staff in the district and Washington, D.C. offices.
Witness 5 testified that he would receive emails from Anderson instructing him to provide gifts, which he did not interpret as a voluntary request, before a holiday or a congressman’s birthday. Witness 1 stated that Anderson told each office to offer gifts worth between $125 and $200, with beer and food-related gifts preferred.
While current and former employees’ credentials say there may have been glitter and balloons or cake and ice cream for employees, the committee found that employees did not receive gifts “of the same or the same value or value as the Lamborn family.”
The committee did admit in its report that there were “some inconsistencies” between the identities and how they each described the generality of the problem.
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