Briefline

Congressional ethics investigators say Rep. Doug Lamborn may have misused official resources

By: - January 25, 2022 5:00 am

House Republican Israel Caucus Co-Chair Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) speaks during a news conference to talk about the military conflict between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza outside the U.S. Capitol on May 19, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Rep. Doug Lamborn may have misused his official resources and solicited improper gifts from his office staff, the Office of Congressional Ethics said Monday

Those violations could have included asking aides to run errands for Lamborn’s wife, Jeanie, and instructing them to help Lamborn’s son apply for a federal job, according to released witness interviews and a referral report. 

“Most of the time, Mrs. Lamborn would call whoever she needed and just dictated to them that she would need them, and then I was told by that staffer that I need to go to Mrs. Lamborn’s house or the Lamborn’s house,” a staffer in the Republican representative’s Colorado Springs office told investigators.

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Those tasks were typically campaign-related, and the staffer said the office culture was such that they should prioritize what Jeanie Lamborn needed.

“If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” she allegedly told a staffer, according to a witness interview transcript. 

“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 referral report reads.

Congressional staffers are allowed to work on campaigns as long as it is outside of official office hours and spaces. The staffers told investigators they sometimes did errands on their lunch break in order to comply with that rule.

The witness interviews also explore staffers’ role in helping Lamborn’s son get a federal job, gifts from staffers to the Lamborns, a naturalization ceremony for Lamborn’s daughter-in-law and an instance where a staffer was asked to move furniture.

One witness said he reviewed Lamborn’s son’s resume, evaluated federal job postings and did a mock interview with him. Those are not average constituent services.

If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy.

– Jeanie Lamborn, as alleged by a witness

“Utilizing staff to facilitate a job placement for Rep. Lamborn’s son implicates a misuse of staff resources, and potentially amounts to a special favor that would not have been provided to similarly situated constituents,” the referral reads.

The congressional ethics board unanimously referred the investigation to the U.S. House Committee on Ethics, a bipartisan committee that investigates and adjudicates any alleged rule violations by representatives or their staff. 

“The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Fla.) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) said in a joint statement.

Lamborn’s spokeswoman, Cassandra Sebastian, said in an emailed statement on Monday that the representative “intends to cooperate fully with the bi-partisan House Committee on Ethics, just as he did with all reasonable requests of the OCE.”

“Our office has demonstrated to the OCE in our rebuttal that these false and unfounded allegations have no merit. It is extremely disappointing that two disgruntled former staffers have weaponized the ethics process for political and personal purposes,” she wrote. 

Some of the allegations first appeared in a lawsuit filed last May by former staffer Brandon Pope. Pope alleged that Lamborn ignored COVID-19 safety precautions, compelled staffers to get him gifts and required staffers to help get his son a job in the federal government. 

A rebuttal letter from Lamborn’s office asserts that all campaign activity was done in accordance with Congressional rules, outside of official work capacity. It denies ethical violations considered in the investigation, except for the time a staffer moved a piece of furniture.

“The one and only possible questionable incident was the receiving by Mrs. Lamborn of a personal errand by Mr. Anderson when he helped lift a heavy piece of furniture into a pickup. That errand took him ten minutes, including a short drive, and he considered it his own time, not official time,” the rebuttal letter reads. 

OCE Rev. 21-4329_Referral

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Sara Wilson
Sara Wilson

Sara Wilson covers state government, Colorado's congressional delegation, energy and other stories for Newsline. She formerly was a reporter for The Pueblo Chieftain, where she covered politics and government in southern Colorado. Wilson earned a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and as a student she reported on Congress and other federal beats in Washington, D.C.

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