UPDATE: Ernest Luning of the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog:
Allegations raised in the lawsuit remain under investigation by the House Committee on Ethics, which announced a year ago that it would review charges Lamborn misused official resources for personal purposes, including requiring congressional staffers to perform tasks for the Lamborn family and his campaign, and that he “solicited or accepted improper gifts from subordinates.” The lawsuit also alleged Lamborn let his son live rent-free in the basement of the U.S. Capitol…
“While plaintiff and defendant disagree strongly about the allegations and defenses made during the Lawsuit, the parties engaged in mediation with a Magistrate Judge and jointly agreed to accept the solution proposed by the mediator, to avoid the expense and burden of future litigation for all involved, including the public (taxpayers),” Sebastian said in a written statement…
A report released a year ago by the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the bipartisan House ethics committee investigate some of Pope’s allegations, following a determination that there was “substantial reason to believe” Lamborn and his wife had enlisted staff members to perform unofficial duties.
Colorado Public Radio’s Caitlyn Kim reports on a settlement reached between Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs and a staffer who alleged that Lamborn endangered the health of his staff by flouting COVID-19 guidances during the height of the pandemic–just one of the many personal indiscretions Lamborn is accused of, also using his staff for personal and family errands, and even allowing his son to sleep in a Capitol storage unit while staffed helped him get a job in Washington:
Brandon Pope claimed he was fired for complaining about Lamborn and the office’s unsafe approach to COVID-19 at a time when many other workplaces were allowing remote work, socially distancing and wearing masks…
“There has not been any admission of guilt or wrongdoing associated with this resolution,” said Cassandra Sebastian, Communications Director for Lamborn. “And Congressman Lamborn absolutely maintains that at all times, he and his office used best efforts to comply with all legal and ethical requirements.”
Confidentiality provisions preclude parties from revealing the details of the settlement, Sebastian added.
Confidentiality in an out-of-court settlement is nothing new, of course, but it’s politically bad enough that the case was not dismissed outright or otherwise resolved in a manner that fully vindicates Rep. Lamborn. This settlement does not. Brandon Pope’s lawsuit was well-founded enough to have resulted in a settlement. Most members of the voting public are legally savvy enough to understand what that means.
And even though this individual civil case against Lamborn has been settled with the parties enjoined from commenting, Pope’s allegations against Lamborn are the subject of an ongoing House Ethics Committee investigation that isn’t going away:
While the legal case has been settled, an ethics investigation into some of the allegations Pope made against Lamborn remains open. In his initial suit, Pope gave examples that he claimed showed Lamborn using office staff to conduct personal errands for his family, such as helping Lamborn’s son prep for job interviews, as well as run campaign errands.
It’s reasonable to suggest that dismissal of the civil case against Rep. Lamborn would have been a better outcome in terms of discouraging further scrutiny by the Ethics Committee than a confidential settlement. With the allegations made by Pope in no way refuted by the settlement, the Committee has an obligation now to fully investigate and if necessary sanction Lamborn for his behavior.
Every taxpayer paid for Lamborn’s alleged abuse of office, not just Lamborn’s staff.