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Rep Newman, Lamborn May Have Broken Law01/25 06:12

   

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- A congressional ethics watchdog has concluded that U.S. 
Reps. Marie Newman of Illinois and Doug Lamborn of Colorado may have violated 
federal law, prompting reviews from the House Ethics Committee.

   Separate investigative reports from the Office of Congressional Ethics 
released Monday detailed a "substantial reason to believe" that Newman, a 
Democrat, promised federal employment to a political opponent and that Lamborn, 
a Republican, misused official resources for personal purposes.

   Though the ethics office conducts the initial review and makes 
recommendations, only the House Ethics Committee has the power to punish a 
lawmaker for wrongdoing. The committee said in a statement Monday that it would 
review the reports and investigate further.

   REP. MARIE NEWMAN, DEMOCRAT OF ILLINOIS

   The allegations against Newman surfaced out of a legal dispute involving an 
employment contract between the Illinois Democrat and Iymen Chehade, a former 
foreign policy advisor during her successful House campaign in 2020. Newman a 
progressive lawmaker, unseated Chicago-area Rep. Dan Lipinski, a staunch 
abortion opponent and one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress at the 
time.

   An attorney representing Newman told the committee in December that the 
congresswoman "cooperates completely with the review," but, that OCE "has 
prejudged the matter from the beginning."

   The ethics office report says that at the start of her campaign, Newman made 
Chehade "certain promises about future employment," in her congressional 
office. "Those promises were reduced to a contract signed by both parties," in 
December 2018, the report reads.

   When Newman did not hire Chehade, he filed a lawsuit to enforce the 
contract. He claimed that he decided to not run for the congressional seat in 
2020 because of the promise that Newman would hire him as a foreign policy 
advisor during the campaign and then a district or legislative director once 
she took office. In a motion to dismiss the case, Newman's counsel acknowledged 
that her contract was in violation of House employment and federal contracting 
rules.

   Newman ended up settling the case with her former adviser and the two signed 
nondisclosure agreements as part of a settlement. The OEC recommended that the 
House committee subpoena Chehade and political consulting group LBH Chicago as 
it conducts its review of its findings.

   A spokesperson for Newman said Monday that the OCE review stemmed from a 
"politically-motivated" complaint from a right-wing organization and that the 
materials produced during the probe "overwhelmingly demonstrate that the ethics 
complaint is completely meritless."

   Newman is a former management consultant who started and led an 
anti-bullying nonprofit. During her campaign for the House, she argued Lipinski 
no longer reflected the views of the district, which backed Sen. Bernie 
Sanders, a democratic socialist, over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential 
primary. She called herself the "true Democrat" during the race, and said she 
would fight for Medicare for All, abortion rights and a path to citizenship for 
people in the U.S. illegally.

   REP. DOUG LAMBORN, REPUBLICAN OF COLORADO

   The report into Lamborn looks at complaints that lawmaker has misused 
official resources for personal and non-official purposes. The OCE report 
included interviews with three current and two former Lamborn staffers as well 
as interviews with the lawmaker himself.

   "The OCE uncovered evidence showing a pattern and practice in Rep. Lamborn's 
office of official staff conducting personal and campaign-related tasks for 
Rep. Lamborn, his wife, and other family members during official work hours, 
and using official resources," the report stated.

   In a December statement to the committee, an attorney for Lamborn said, "A 
thorough review of the facts will make it clear to everyone that no ethical 
violation has occurred, and the same should be dismissed." A request for 
comment from Lamborn was not immediately returned,

   The report includes details about Laborn's wife having access to an official 
House email account and even at times sleeping in the office with Lamborn. The 
lawmaker told the ethics office his wife played "a substantial role," in his 
congressional office which at times included hiring, firing, and promotions.

   "While it is not unusual for spouses to play a role in a congressional 
office or have an official email account, evidence obtained by the OCE 
indicated that Mrs. Lamborn had a role in the office that exceeded what is 
permissible for spouses," the report continued.

   The OCE recommended the House Ethics Committee review other allegations 
against Lamborn, including that he solicited or accepted improper gifts from 
subordinates. It also recommended issuing subpoenas to Lamborn and several 
senior members of his staff.

   Lamborn, the eight-term congressman from Colorado Springs, was sued in May 
by a former staffer for allegedly disregarding coronavirus safety protocols in 
his Washington office even after he and staff members were infected, letting 
one of his sons live in the basement of the U.S. Capitol and ordering staff to 
run personal errands for his family.

 
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