Congressman’s Thirst for Beer Isn’t Even Weirdest Part of Ethics Report
According to a new ethics report released Monday, life as a congressional staffer in the office of Colorado Republican Representative Doug Lamborn is… pretty weird.
First, Lamborn wants you, his office worker, to give him Christmas presents—beer and food preferred—with a value of $125 to $200.
In addition, Representative Lamborn also wants you to throw your daughter-in-law a party to celebrate her naturalization. While such a party maybe happen for another voter, according to this report, the office is unlikely to ever hold another. “Nothing that I can think of,” as one employee put it.
Meanwhile, Lamborn’s son can also ask you to help polish his resume for a job at the Pentagon and do a few mock interviews. But Lamborn, the report said, believes his staff will do this kind of prep work for any veteran voter — though an aide said he has “done nothing like that.” before.
And then there’s Mrs. Lamborn.
Apparently she spends the night with the Congressman in office, and she has the power to hire, promote, and yes, fire you.
She may also need you to receive mail, set up Zooms with her daughter, move furniture, and possibly violate federal campaign laws. Of course, they assume you’re doing all this work voluntarily, even if you’re in tax time and fear losing your job.
Those are just a handful of the strange and serious allegations against Lamborn revealed in the Office of Congressional Ethics. report second release.
The report found that the OCE, in a 6-0 vote in October, found “substantial reason to believe” that the eight-term MP violated many of the House’s codes of ethics, as well as the law. federal law, and recommended that the House Ethics Committee open an investigation.
Drawing from documents and interviews with three former and two current Lamborn employees, the OCE poll — driven by an employment lawsuit which a 66-year-old former employee filed against Lamborn last May — finding that small-government Republicans appear to have misused official resources in various ways. These include a naturalization party for his daughter-in-law, helping his son get a job and making personal favors for his wife, Jeannie.
Some of Jeannie Lamborn’s odd jobs appear to have violated laws that forbid the use of government resources for political activism.
A former employee told investigators that Lamborn’s wife “managed” incentives, including “personal errands, mailing” and “advocacy work.”
“I ran their petition process in 2020, and then there were sporadic things in the campaign where I was required to have lunch to do, and then mostly,” the witness said. employees do personal things.
In defense of the many charges against his wife, Representative Lamborn said she “wouldn’t do it because it’s really not allowed under the congressional code of ethics and she wouldn’t want to violate it.” that.” He went on to admit she summoned an employee to move furniture “at least once or maybe every – probably twice”, a claims investigator immediately challenged that.
The report notes that Representative Lamborn also acknowledged that his wife was “deeply involved in all aspects of personnel” at the office, “including but not limited to hiring, firing and promotion. “
According to the report, these personal favors also take place during official business hours – a likely ethical violation. Jeannie Lamborn also receives daily work reports from employees to her spouse’s official email account, which is allowed but not common. But don’t expect employees to record Jeannie Lamborn’s errands in their daily work reports — as one employee explained, “… it’s a personal run… it’s not. should be something that I will report as part of my daily activities. ”
Kedric Payne, senior director of ethics at the bipartisan watchdog’s Campaign Legal Center, said the entire ethics report presented evidence of “a serious breach”.
“Members know that the law prohibits the use of taxpayer money for personal use and campaign activities. This is evidence that it is a serious violation that House employees are directed to carry out personal affairs and to carry out the government’s campaign work on time,” Payne said. “Voters have a right to know that their elected officials are not using government employees to benefit themselves or their political campaigns.”
Lamborn — who just 12 days after the OCE vote brag for winning the “Tax Fighter Award” —declared to investigators that all political activity is entirely voluntary, if permitted by law. But two former employees countered that claim, with one saying he was fired for not complying with the requirements. As Lamborn’s chief human resources officer, Dale Anderson, is said to have said, “If mom isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.”
OCE also found “substantial reason to believe” Lamborn solicited or accepted gifts from his office staff — another possible violation of ethics codes as well as federal law, according to the findings. research results.
Two former staffers told investigators they felt “forced” to pay for gifts for the congressman and his wife themselves, including birthdays and Christmas. They said the pressure did not come directly from LamIDS but from Anderson, the chief of staff.
When one of the witnesses refused to participate, Anderson told him that “people got fired less,” according to the report.
“How will I be compensated?”
– Witness in Ethics Reporting
It is against the law for an official to “receive a gift from an employee who receives a lower salary than himself.” And Anderson’s statements were so powerful and so frequent that the OCE found that the Capitol Hill veteran’s failure to stop his top aide’s conduct could hold the congressman himself “responsible for solicitation.” gifts in violation of federal law”.
And those gifts came with anticipation.
According to the accounts, Anderson “instructed each office to provide gifts ranging from $125 to $200 to the Lambons,” preferably “with regard to beer and food,” the report said. .
“I’m going to tell Dale Anderson what we get to make sure it’s his approval and the dollar amount is high enough, and that the congressman and Mrs. Lamborn will be fine with that,” a witness said. told investigators.
Lamborn makes no secret that he is really, Actually love christmas.
In 2015, he introduced a bill that would officially declare the importance of the holiday—“expressing the House of Commons sense that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected for use by those who celebrate Christmas.”
In a statement accompanying the bill, Lamborn described Christmas as a “wonderful time of year,” when “the majority of Americans take time to remember the humble birth of Jesus on a holy night.” .”
“Christmas’ message is one of love, hope, and peace,” the statement went on, citing “a disturbing effort by some in America” to eliminate “any and all celebrations.” and Christmas traditions from the public arena.”
But the report shows, the Lamborn children did not give what they were given.
While Lamborn told OCE in an interview that “we will do the same for our employees,” investigators “did not find any evidence that employees received the same kind of gift”.
Christmas isn’t the only unethical celebration cited in the report. The naturalization ceremony for his daughter-in-law at the Colorado Springs county office also appears to have broken the law.
“Representative Lamborn intends to fully cooperate with the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, the same way he has with all reasonable requests of the OCE. He remains certain that the committee will eventually reach an appropriate decision by dismissing the OCE referral and he hopes to be fully vindicated.”
– Cassandra Sebastian, spokeswoman for Representative Lamborn,
When a witness asked Anderson “how do I get compensated” for such an event, she said what she learned from “ethics classes and everything.” In response, she said, “Dale Anderson just laughed.”
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Lamborn’s office provided The Daily Beast with a 330-word statement calling the findings “false and baseless”, while blasting OCE “too much” encouraging” and two “disgruntled former employees” who were “apparently biased witnesses.” The spokesperson also cited a spam Lamborn’s attorneys submitted to the Ethics Committee last month.
“Representative Lamborn intends to cooperate fully with the bipartisan House Ethics Committee, in the same way he has with all reasonable requests of the OCE. He remains certain that the committee will ultimately reach the appropriate decision by dismissing the OCE’s referral and he hopes to be fully vindicated,” the statement said.
To be fair, the OCE also acknowledges there can be witness bias. After assessing the “reliability of all witnesses,” the report said, investigators found “several inconsistencies” in the testimony. However, it was testimony in Lamborn’s favor.
And while the statement said Lamborn had cooperated “fully” with the OCE’s investigation, the report made clear in multiple places that Lamborn had refused to comply with the requests, “and therefore failed to cooperate with the investigation.” this review.”
Ultimately, it’s unclear how Lamborn pays those attorneys.
Elected officials are authorized to use campaign funds for legal services related to their government duties, including for ethics investigations. However, according to federal filings, Operation Lambon did not pay any fees for legal work of any kind—since 2019.