COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KMGH) — Republican U.S. Congressman Doug Lamborn is under fire for several allegations in a new lawsuit, including forcing staff members to buy his family Christmas gifts, helping him move furniture into a vacation home, and flaunting COVID-19 safety protocols.
“Not only does it look bad, it’s a violation of the congressional ethics rules,” said longtime Republican lobbyist and consultant Steve Durham.
In one e-mail obtained by Denver7, a Lamborn staff member writes, "Team – I am leaving now to run errands for Mrs. Lamborn, then I will take my lunch hour."
Another e-mail says, "…we were able to get a gift certificate for the Kennedy Center… $10 from each of us will give [the Lamborn’s] flexibility deciding what they want to attend."
“There’s no question the use of staff for personal gain is forbidden and smacks of corruption,” Durham said.
Durham believes this could spell trouble for the eight-term congressman, even in Colorado’s 5th Congressional district, which is traditionally a Republican stronghold.
“It makes him very vulnerable to a primary,” Durham said.
The lawsuit also alleges Lamborn allowed his son to sleep in a storage space in the basement of the U.S. Capitol building for weeks. It also claims Lamborn exposed his staff to the coronavirus by ignoring U.S. House rules and alleges he had an overall ‘reckless handling’ of COVID-19 protocols.
Many on Lamborn’s staff did contract the virus in the fall of 2020.
“It’s significant, but it doesn’t smack of corruption like the use of staff for personal gain,” Durham said. "The lawsuit goes on to say Lamborn’s staff helped his wife with telecom calls to family, picked up personal mail at his residence and spent lunch preparing mailers for the campaign.
“That’s not what they get paid for,” Durham said. “They’re government employees.”
Durham said this could lead to a censure of the congressman or other consequences, which could possibly put him in a tough primary battle if another Republican were to show interest and run against Lamborn.
“The hardest job in the United States is to defeat an incumbent member of Congress,” Durham said. “But frankly, I think it would be bad for the party to reelect someone to Congress who’s demonstrated a complete disregard for the ethics rules.”