Emails between Rep. Lamborn’s staff discuss gifts, personal errands

Emails obtained by The Denver Post between staff members of Colorado Springs Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn show requests for donating money for Christmas gifts and notes about running personal errands for his wife.

The emails buttress claims made in a lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court by a former Lamborn employee, which also alleged the congressman’s office was lax on COVID protocols even after staffers and Lamborn himself contracted the virus. Those internal communications fly in the face of Lamborn’s claim to Colorado Public Radio that the lawsuit consists of a “tissue of lies.”

The Washington, D.C.-based attorney who filed the lawsuit on behalf of Brandon Pope expressed confidence in the case.

“We’ve been very careful and have conducted a thorough investigation of the facts before we filed the lawsuit and we are very confident that we will be able to prove everything that we alleged, not simply with Mr. Pope’s testimony but with the testimony of numerous other witnesses,” attorney Les Alderman told The Denver Post.

Pope’s lawsuit alleges that Lamborn used his staff for the personal benefit of his family by running their personal errands and compelling employees to buy Christmas and birthday gifts for the congressman and his wife. The emails obtained Friday show Lamborn’s staff discussing both topics.

One from Dec. 9, 2019, was sent to Lamborn’s all-staff list by Lamborn Chief of Staff Dale Anderson with the subject line “Christmas Gift to Lamborns.”

“It looks like we are able to get a gift certificate for the Kennedy Center so they can put toward their favorite concert/show,” Anderson wrote. “$10 from each of us will give them some flexibility in deciding what they want to attend.”

“Pay me cash or send it through Venmo,” he added.

Anderson did not respond to calls Friday seeking comment.

A second email from one of Lamborn’s assistants and schedulers, Linda Rutzen, has the subject line “Leaving for lunch/errand.”

“Team — I am leaving now to run an errand for Mrs. Lamborn, then I will take my lunch hour,” Rutzen wrote in the Jan. 9, 2020, email.

The House Ethics manual forbids lawmakers using staff for anything but official congressional duties. The issue arose in 2018 when former GOP Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia and his wife made staffers pick up groceries, clothes and dog poop, Politico reported. An inspector general’s report also recently found that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife, Susan Pompeo, repeatedly misused State Department staff for personal business in violation of the department’s ethical standards, The Kansas City Star reported.

Similarly, Pope’s lawsuit accuses Lamborn’s office of requiring staff to run personal errands for the congressman’s family, including loading furniture to be moved to their vacation home, picking up personal mail (which is specifically prohibited in the House Ethics manual) and carrying personal legal documents.”

A spokeswoman for Lamborn, who represents the 5th Congressional District, did not immediately comment on the emails.

But Lamborn told Colorado Public Radio that Pope was a disgruntled employee. He called the lawsuit weak and denied any ethical violations, but did not specifically deny one allegation — that he allowed one of his sons to live rent-free for weeks in a storage area of the U.S. Capitol’s basement.

“I gave my son temporary housing as my guest because the housing market in Washington, D.C., is very tight,” Lamborn said, though he refused to go into details when asked whether he let his son stay in his office or in a storage unit.

Alderman also said Lamborn’s assertions about his client, Pope, were inaccurate. Pope claims he was fired after speaking out against the congressman’s actions during the pandemic, which, the lawsuit alleges, put employees at risk.

“Brandon was a committed employee who cared deeply about his job and particularly caring for veterans,” Alderman said. “The only way you could call him disgruntled is because Lamborn and his chief of staff bristled at Brandon standing up to do the right thing during a pandemic.”

Source: Read Full Article