Ethics office says Rep. Doug Lamborn improperly used staff and resources

Congressional ethics investigators said Monday they found ‘substantial reason to believe’ that Colorado Republican Congressman Doug Lamborn ‘misued official resources’ and improperly solicited gifts from his staff in what could be a violation of House rules. 

In a 19-page report, the Office of Congressional Ethics detailed how Lamborn’s congressional staff helped his son through the federal job application process, threw a party for his daughter-in-law after she became a naturalized citizen and described the ‘substantial’ role Jeanie Lamborn, the congressman’s wife, played in the office.

A former Lamborn staffer explained that the chief of staff Dale Anderson made it clear to them that ‘Mrs. Lamborn had precedence.’

‘If mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,’ Jeanie Lamborn allegedly said to the unnamed staffer, the report claims.

Lamborn is accused of using his congressional staff, who are paid with tax-payer dollars, to run personal errands and work on campaign events. If that is the case, then both are a violation of House rules. 

Investigators also looked into allegations the congressman soliciated birthday presents for himself and his wife, which is not only a violation of House rules but of federal law.

The Office of Congressional Ethics conducted interviews with three current and two former Lamborn staffers as well as interviews with the lawmaker himself. 

Lamborn’s office denied the allegations. The matter has been referred to the House Ethics Committee for further review. Only that panel has the power to punish a lawmaker for wrongdoings in the House.

‘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,’ Lamborn’s spokeswoman, Cassandra Sebastian, said in a statement. 

Congressional ethics investigators they found ‘substantial reason to believe’ that Rep. Doug Lamborn, Republican of Colorado, ‘misued official resources’

Investigators say Lamborn’s wife, Jeanie, played a ‘substantial’ role in the office, including in hiring and firing staff

Rep. Doug Lamborn, Jeanie Lamborn and their family

The investigation found that staff said they were instructed by the Lamborns and Dale Anderson to throw a naturalization party for Lamborn’s daughter-in-law when she became a naturalized citizen in 2020. It was held in his Colorado district office.

Lamborn denied he asked staff to plan and hold the party.

Staff also allege that, when one of Lamborn’s four sons moved from New York to Washington D.C. in 2020, they were asked to help him in his federal job search.

Lamborn also allegedly allowed his son to live out of a storage room in the basement of the U.S. Capitol for a period of weeks. That detail was revealed when Brandon Pope, a former staffer for Lamborn, filed a lawsuit against the congressman last year alleging Lamborn ignored COVID safety precautions – including mask wearing and social distancing – and created unsafe working conditions in his offices. Pope claimed he was fired for trying to implement COVID-related safety policies.

In the ethics investigation report, Lamborn stated that his son, who was a veteran, ‘was pursuing a job with the Pentagon and ultimately got that job.’ He argued his staff didn’t do anything more for his son than they would do for any of his constituents. 

One staffer, who is not identified by name, told investigators, that ‘he spent several hours providing extensive guidance to Rep. Lamborn’s son, including but not limited to reviewing his resume, evaluating federal job postings, and assisting with mock interview questions.’

The staffer said those were not normal tasks he would help a constitutent with. The investigators also found it was unclear if the son was a constituent of Colorado’s 5th congressional district during this time, since a public search revealed multiple addresses in New York, Virginia, and Colorado.

The investigators also said they found a pattern of official staff conducting personal and campaign-related tasks for Lamborn and his wife, Jeanie, who had an official House email account, as some spouses do. 

Investigators said Jeanie Lamborn ‘had a role in the office that exceeded what is permissible for spouses.’

She regularly visited the Washington D.C. office and slept in it with her husband (many members of Congress sleep in their office instead of paying to rent an apartment). She asked staff for help moving furniture and setting up zoom calls.

She was also involved in hiring, firing and promotions and had access the ‘daily report’ where staff had to detail their work for that day. 

Her company has been paid more than $170,000 by Lamborn’s campaign since 2015, The Colorado Sun reported.

Rep. Doug Lamborn’s son Mark and his daughter-in-law Oksana, who is originally from the Ukraine, according to her facebook page

Rep. Lamborn with then-President Donald Trump when Trump had a Keep America Great rally on Feburary 20, 2020 in Colorado Springs

Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado with wife Jeanie Lamborn (both at left) with others at a Trump rally in Las Vegas on Feb. 21, 2020

Rep. Lamborn was interviewed by congressional investigators and defended his wife, saying he didn’t think she would ask staffers for help with personal errands.

‘We try to follow the rules very carefully and very sincerely,’ Lamborn said. ‘So I don’t think she would knowingly do that.’

Additionally, Rep. Lamborn may have permitted his chief of staff Dale Anderson to solicit gifts on his behalf. Lawmakers are not allowed to solicit gifts from employees. It is also a violation of federal law for a federal employee to accept a gift from an employee that makes less money.

Staffers said that on Christmas and birthdays, they hosted celebrations for Rep. Lamborn and Jeanie Lamborn.  

One staffer told the investigators ‘he would receive an email from Dale Anderson before the holidays or Rep. Lamborn’s birthday instructing him to provide a gift. He did not interpret it as a voluntary request.’

Anderson ‘instructed each office to provide gifts valued between $125 and $200 for the Lamborns, and also told them it was preferable to give gifts related to beer and food.’

Anderson did not participate in the investigation.

The staffers also said they hosted birthday parties with ‘spreading glitter and balloons’ along with cake and ice cream. 

In a rebuttal letter filed by Rep. Lamborn on December 16, 2021, in an early stage of the investigation, he claims the Office of Congressional Ethics is ‘biased’ against him.

He also argues Pope, his former staffer, has a grudge against him: ‘The source of the allegations of unethical behavior first surfaced in an employment lawsuit brought by Mr. Brandon Pope, a former staffer, against the office of Congressman Lamborn. 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.’

The OCE recommended issuing subpoenas to Lamborn and several senior members of his staff to testify on these matters.

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