‘Substantial reason’ to believe Rep. Lamborn violated Congressional ethics, investigation finds
Representative Doug Lamborn may have misused the resources of his office for personal gain, according to an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics.
The office forwarded the results of its inquiry to the House Committee on Ethics, which will conduct its own review and potentially recommend sanctions against the eight-term Republican from El Paso County.
According to their report, investigators found that there is evidence Lamborn's wife, Jeanie Lamborn, has been more involved in the running of his office than is allowed for spouses, and that she and the Congressman have used official staff for campaign and personal errands.
"Based on the foregoing information, the Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that Rep. Lamborn misused official resources for personal and non-official purposes," the investigation concludes. It also found substantial evidence Lamborn has improperly pressured staff to give him and his wife gifts at Christmas and on their birthdays.
Rep. Lamborn was interviewed for the investigation, as were three of his current staffers and two former employees. It was spurred by a lawsuit filed last year by a former employee, Brandon Pope, who claims he was fired for complaining about unsafe COVID working conditions. The suit also listed ways in which Pope claimed the congressman was violating ethical rules, concerns which form the basis of the Congressional inquiry.
One former staffer told investigators that Rep. Lamborn's chief of staff emphasized to him that Mrs. Lamborn's requests had precedence over other office work; "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 chief of staff, Dale Anderson, refused the Ethics Office's request to participate in the investigation.
Investigators also found evidence that staff spent time helping Lamborn's son prepare for a job interview at the Pentagon, "including but not limited to reviewing his resume, evaluating federal job postings, and assisting with mock interview questions," according to one of the former staffers.
Rep. Lamborn strongly disputes investigators' characterization of events and his attorneys argue in a rebuttal letter that the Ethics Office is attempting to 'micromanage' his office. His spokesperson said in a statement that the complaint has been driven by two "disgruntled former staffers (who) have weaponized the ethics process for political and personal purposes."
"Without the bias on the part of (Office of Congressional Ethics) against the Congressman, as well as their lack of skepticism toward two obviously biased witnesses, OCE would not have reached the conclusions it did," the rebuttal letter states.
The OCE report notes numerous cases where the accounts of the former employees differed from those still working for the Congressman.
The current staffers who were interviewed generally said any campaign work or personal errands they did was conducted on lunch breaks outside of their official working hours and done voluntarily.
The investigation is now in the hands of the House Committee on Ethics, which said it won't comment while the inquiry is ongoing.