Staffer sues Lamborn over ‘reckless’ COVID actions, ethical lapses

Politics

WASHINGTON (KDVR) – A new lawsuit against U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn alleges the congressman had a “reckless and dangerous approach” to COVID-19 and fired a former staffer who spoke up with concerns.

In the 16-page document filed Thursday in federal court for the District of Columbia, former staffer Brandon Pope also alleges Lamborn crossed ethical boundaries with his employees, requiring them to perform personal tasks for his family and campaign.

Lamborn spokesperson Cassandra Sebastian responded to the lawsuit in a Thursday statement.

“The workplace safety allegations made by Mr. Pope are unsubstantiated and did not result in the termination of his employment. Congressman Lamborn looks forward to full vindication as all facts come to light,” Sebastian wrote in an email.

The lawsuit claims violations of the Congressional Accountability Act, which requires employers to provide hazard-free workplaces and includes protections against intimidation and retaliation.

Pope claims he was fired on Dec. 7 after raising concerns about the office’s lack of COVID safety.

According to the lawsuit, Lamborn, a Republican who’s represented Colorado’s 5th congressional district since 2007, did not require masks in his Colorado Springs office and “did not permit all employees to social distance.”

When Lamborn and other senior staffers were diagnosed with COVID-19 in the fall, “Lamborn refused to implement or follow reasonable and responsible COVID-19 protocols, resulting in the widespread transmission of the virus” throughout his Colorado Springs and Washington offices.

Lamborn told a staffer that he “did not care” if employees got infected, the suit alleges.

Other allegations in the lawsuit:

  • After Lamborn’s Washington office closed because of an outbreak, his chief of staff told employees not to tell anyone they had been in close contact with people who tested positive for the virus
  • Employees were not allowed to work form home or isolate after their bosses were in contact with several infected staffers
  • Both Lamborn and his wife claimed the pandemic was a hoax “being used to alter the course of the congressional and presidential elections”

The suit also alleges a number of ethical violations against Lamborn:

  • Lamborn allowed his son to live in a storage area in the U.S. Capitol
  • Lamborn required staffers to help his son apply and prepare for job interviews
  • Lamborn required staffers to run personal errands for his family, like loading furniture
  • Staffers were required to use both personal and official time for campaign work, like preparing mailers and campaign events
  • Staffers felt compelled to accept all invitations to join Lamborn at family events and to give Christmas and birthday gifts to Lamborn and his wife

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