Investigators have determined that there is “substantial reason to believe” that Democrat Rep. Marie Newman (IL) may have bribed a potential primary opponent to stay out of her race in exchange for a job in her congressional office.
“Rep. Newman, during a successful campaign for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, may have promised federal employment to a primary opponent for the purpose of procuring political support,” the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) said in its report. “If Rep. Newman used her candidacy to promise federal employment, she may have violated federal law, House rules, or standards of conduct.”
The allegations stem from Newman’s 2020 congressional run when she decided to once again challenge incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) in the party’s primary after losing to him in the previous cycle.
Business Insider reported:
According to a report released on Monday, Newman may have promised a potential primary challenger, Palestinian-American professor Iymen Chehade, a job as her “foreign policy advisor and either District Director or Legislative Director” in a potential future congressional office after the two met in 2018.
Newman told the body that she sought to hire Chehade because of his knowledge on foreign and Arab-American affairs, which she felt was a shortcoming of her 2018 campaign. … The Illinois progressive claims Chehade’s potential 2020 plans did not factor into their discussions, but documents she herself provided to the body seemed to contradict her testimony: in a draft contract attached to an October 2018 email, Chehade says he will not “announce or submit his candidacy” for that district, and that “in exchange” he would be hired as Newman’s chief foreign policy advisor.
The two parties signed a contract in December 2018 and agreed that Chehade would be paid between $135,000 and $140,000
The report added:
But after that job did not materialize for Chehade, he sued Newman in January 2021 to enforce the contract they’d signed. Newman’s legal counsel, in seeking to dismiss the case, acknowledged to the House General Counsel that her contract “was violative of House employment and federal contracting rules,” according to the OCE report. That lawsuit was then settled in June 2021 and included a nondisclosure agreement … But in May 2021, the conservative Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust filed a complaint with OCE, spurring the congressional inquiry.
Newman’s team claimed in a response that the OCE investigation failed to “present grounds for investigation” and claimed that “virtually every element of the allegation is false.”
“Based on the foregoing information, the Board finds that there is substantial reason to believe that during a successful campaign for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Newman may have promised federal employment to a primary opponent for the purpose of procuring political support,” the OCE report concluded. “Accordingly, the Board recommends that the Committee further review the above allegation that Rep. Newman may have promised federal employment to a primary opponent for the purpose of procuring political support.”
The Board voted 6-0 to refer the case to the House Ethics Committee.
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