A congresswoman from Illinois is in hot water for allegedly promising a job on her staff to get a political rival not to run against her.
The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) recommended Monday that the House Ethics Committee further examine the allegations that Rep. Marie Newman, a Chicago-area Democrat, offered Iymen Hamman Chehade a congressional office post as an incentive not to run against her.
The post would have paid allotted the Columbia College and Art Institute of Chicago professor, between $135,000 and $140,000 a year starting in January 2021.
The independent watchdog OCE said it found “substantial reason to believe” Chehade, who later sued for breach of contract after he wasn’t ultimately hired. That case has since been settled.
“At the start of her 2020 campaign, Rep. Newman made Mr. Chehade certain promises about future employment in her congressional office. Those promises were reduced to a contract signed by both parties,” the OCE report said.
“In 2021, after Rep. Newman did not hire Mr. Chehade, he sued to enforce the contract, claiming that he decided not to run for the 2020 congressional seat in reliance of her promise to hire him as a foreign policy advisor and either District Director or Legislative Director in her congressional office.”
According to the documents, Newman and her legal counsel “acknowledged that her contract was violative of House employment and federal contracting rules” in a motion to dismiss the case.
Newman’s counsel Brian Svoboda defended the congresswoman, arguing that the OCE finding “fails to mention that Rep. Newman came from a business background in startups, where it was common to seek employees for positions that did not yet exist, with organizations that did not yet exist and may not exist for even two years.”
The OCE also recommended Monday that the House Ethics Committee further look into Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) over accusations that he misused official resources and “solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates.”
According to the OCE report, Lamborn and his wife, Jeanie, allegedly misused staff for personal purposes including asking aides to help his son apply for federal jobs. At least five of Lamborn’s past and current staff told the OCE that they performed errands personal tasks the Colorado Republican and his family.
“He made it clear several times, where it caused a lot of stress and a lot of operational issues. He would explain that, and then Mrs. Lamborn would say, if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,’” the report, citing aides and former aides said.
The probe into Lamborn’s potential ethics violations comes in the wake of former staffer Brandon Pope filing a federal lawsuit against the congressman, alleging that he ignored COVID-19 precautions, creating an unsafe working environment.
Lamborn has denied any wrongdoing and asserted he will cooperate with the committee.
While the potential violations are under review, the House Ethics Committee has not determined whether any laws or House rules were violated at this time.
“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,” U.S. Reps. Ted Deutch (D-Florida) and Ranking member Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) said in joint statements.