Ethics panel reports Rep. Lamborn misused official resources
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent entity that investigates allegations of lawmaker wrongdoing, stated in a report released Monday that it found “substantial” evidence that staffers for Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) were asked to perform personal tasks for him and his family in a misuse of official resources.
The OCE referred its findings last year to the House Ethics Committee, which disclosed Monday that it has extended its review of the matter.
Former staffers told the OCE that they were asked to run errands for Lamborn’s wife, Jeanie, and described her as being “deeply involved” in the operations of her husband’s congressional office.
“Mrs. Lamborn would say, if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” a former staffer said, according to the OCE’s report.
The OCE report further noted that Lamborn’s wife “regularly visits Rep. Lamborn’s office and often sleeps in the office with Rep. Lamborn.”
“Mrs. Lamborn’s significant involvement in Rep. Lamborn’s office led former staffers to feel that they were required to comply with her requests,” the OCE report states.
Lamborn disputed the notion that his wife had asked staffers for help with personal errands, such as moving furniture at their home and scheduling personal Zoom meetings.
“My understanding is that my wife would not do that because that’s not really allowed under the congressional rules of — of ethics and she wouldn’t want to run afoul of that,” Lamborn said, according to the OCE.
Yet Lamborn acknowledged that his wife had asked a staffer to move furniture “on at least one or maybe perhaps two occasions.”
Current and former staffers also recalled being asked by Lamborn and his wife to help their son with the federal job application process in 2020.
Lamborn stated that he merely asked staff to give his son “the same [sic] — understanding that this is the same that they would do for any veteran who was also a constituent.”
A former staffer reported reviewing Lamborn’s son’s resume, evaluating federal job postings and helping with mock interview questions, stating it went beyond tasks he would typically perform for constituents.
Brandon Pope, a former Lamborn staffer, filed a federal lawsuit last year alleging that the Colorado Republican created unsafe working conditions by ignoring COVID-19 precautions such as wearing a mask and social distancing.
Pope further made some of the same allegations in the OCE report, including that Lamborn directed staffers to help his son find a job, according to the Colorado Sun.
Lamborn’s counsel, former Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), accused the OCE in a rebuttal of failing to “account for obvious biases.”
“Mr. Pope is seeking money damages from the government for back wages, future wages, pain and suffering, as well as attorney’s fees. OCE refuses to consider that they are being used by Mr. Pope to try to secure his financial jackpot,” Harper wrote.
In addition, the OCE found that Lamborn’s staff may have permitted his chief of staff, Dale Anderson, to solicit gifts from staffers on his behalf on special occasions such as Christmas and birthdays. The celebrations involved staffers contributing to a group gift to the Lamborns.
Current Lamborn staffers interviewed by the OCE said that they contributed voluntarily, but some former staffers said that the gift-giving seemed to be obligatory.
“While there are circumstances when special occasion gift giving between members and staff is permissible, it is never permissible for a member to solicit a gift from a subordinate,” the OCE report states.
Lamborn’s counsel stated in the rebuttal that the Lamborns have spent hundreds of dollars hosting Christmas meals for his office staff and that staff have received House Christmas ornaments as gifts.
“OCE is obviously incorrect when it states that the Lamborns did not give gifts in proportion to what they received. Rather, the evidence shown above reveals that the Lamborns gave as much or more than what they received,” Harper wrote.
The OCE only has the authority to investigate allegations of wrongdoing and refer cases to the House Ethics Committee. The committee can then launch an investigation of its own and determine if any punishment against a lawmaker is warranted.
The House Ethics Committee also said Monday that it is extending its review of allegations that Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) offered a job in her congressional office to a potential primary opponent.
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