A former aide for GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn is alleging in a lawsuit filed Thursday he was fired for being outspoken against the Colorado congressman for his “reckless and dangerous” approach in his congressional office to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The lawsuit, which was filed by former aide Brandon Pope, claims that Lamborn endangered his staff by dismissing Covid-19 protocols, mocked staffers in his office for wearing face masks and forced aides to continue working in person at the height of the pandemic. At the time, the majority of staff working on Capitol Hill were teleworking.
Pope also alleged in the lawsuit that after Lamborn learned he had been exposed to Covid-19 in October by a staffer, he “misrepresented” his exposure to the Capitol attending physician, did not get tested and then continued to interact with his staff.
“He’s a disgruntled employee,” Lamborn told reporters about Pope on Capitol Hill Friday. “I’m loathed to criticize people, even though I have vehement disagreements with them. We’re going to be filing an answer. I’ll be represented by US House lawyers. And they feel that their case is extremely weak and that we will prevail. So we’ll be, when we file the answer, that’ll be another opportunity maybe to get into more details.”
The lawsuit goes into depth about certain times the congressman allegedly disregarded concerns from his staff about the pandemic. One part of the lawsuit tells the story of when Pope learned from a third party that Lamborn and two other staffers were positive with Covid-19. CNN reported at the time the congressman had Covid-19.
“When Lamborn and other senior members of his staff became infected with Covid-19 in the fall of 2020, Lamborn refused to implement or follow reasonable and responsible Covid-19 protocols, resulting in the widespread transmission of the virus throughout both the District and Washington, D.C. Offices,” the lawsuit said. “After he knew that he had been in close contact with his Deputy Chief of Staff who had been infected, Lamborn told one staffer that he ‘did not care’ if his employees got infected and that he was not going to wear a mask or isolate himself.”
Pope claimed he was fired for “alleged lack of professionalism and abrasiveness toward his colleagues and supervisors.”
“In summary, Representative Lamborn had a reckless and dangerous approach to COVID19, and he retaliated against Mr. Pope for seeking to protect employees from unsafe conditions in the workplace,” the lawsuit alleges. “Representative Lamborn often mocked safety protocols such as measures to distance employees from each other and the use of masks, and they minimized COVID-related concerns.”
Lamborn told CNN he is vaccinated for Covid-19.
The lawsuit also alleged Lamborn gave access for his son to live in the storage area in the basement of the US Capitol for a “period of weeks,” as well as a few other ethical concerns, such as making his taxpayer-funded staffers help his son apply for federal jobs and making them run personal errands for his family.
Lamborn’s son is not named in the lawsuit.
Aides were also told to use their official office time to perform campaign work.
When asked by reporters on Friday about the ethical complaints against his office, Lamborn responded, “Those are a tissue of lies.”
But when asked specifically about his son living in the storage basement, Lamborn responded, “I gave my son temporary housing as my guest, because the, uh, housing market in Washington, DC, is very tight and he moved here to get a job at the Pentagon. … I’m not going to go into more detail on that but there are no ethical issues involved in the way you look at it. That’s an example of the lies that are out there, unfortunately. It’s a sad situation.”
CNN has reached out to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the House Ethics Committee and US Capitol Police about the allegations in the lawsuit.
Lamborn’s office did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment but told Politico in a statement earlier this week, “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.”