Watchdog finds ‘substantial’ evidence Illinois Democrat promised job to potential challenger

The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE), an independent watchdog, said it found “substantial reasons to believe” Rep. Marie Newman (D-Ill.) offered a government job to a potential primary adversary in order to that he does not run against her. in 2020.

The OCE report was released on Monday after the watchdog referred its findings late last year to the House Ethics Committee, which said Monday it was extending its review of the allegations. .

the ECO Report cites a contract Newman and Iymen Hamman Chehade signed on December 26, 2018, which stated that she would hire him as senior foreign policy adviser and district or legislative director from January 2021 if elected to the Bedroom. The contract further specified that Chehade would earn an annual salary of between $135,000 and $140,000 per year.

Newman then successfully defeated former Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary and went on to win the general election.

Chehade, a professor at Columbia College Chicago and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, filed a lawsuit last year accusing Newman of breach of contract after he was ultimately not hired for the job in his congressional office. Chehade and Newman eventually settled the matter, and he now works as director of foreign policy and research for Newman’s campaign.

At the same time, Chehade also launched a campaign for Illinois’ 3rd congressional district.

Newman, meanwhile, is running in the newly drawn 6th congressional district against Rep. Sean Casten (D).

by Newman counsel argued the OCE “plays down the legitimate reasons” Newman reached a deal with a potential staffer before formally deciding to run for Congress in 2019, citing Chehade’s expertise in foreign policy.

“OCE fails to mention that Rep. Newman came from a business background in startups, where it was common to seek out employees for positions that did not yet exist, with organizations that did not yet exist and that did not exist. ‘may not even exist for two years,’ Newman’s attorney said. , Brian Svoboda, wrote in a response to the House Ethics Committee.

Newman’s attorney further stated that Chehade told Newman in May 2018 that “while he had thought about showing up, he wanted to help him instead, which made it clear to him that he would not become not a candidate for Congress”.

But the OCE argued that Newman “was likely motivated to make the deal to avoid competing with Mr. Chehade in the upcoming Democratic primary.”

He cited an October 27, 2018 email from Chehade to Newman that summarized an in-person meeting days before and includes a “proposal” which stated, “Chehade agrees not to advertise or submit his candidacy for election as congressional representative from Illinois’ 3rd district. In exchange, Newman will hire Chehade as chief foreign policy adviser.”

When the OCE asked Newman about the email, she replied that she was “outraged and furious” at the language regarding Chehade’s potential candidacy and called him to discuss it.

Yet in another email dated Nov. 2, 2018, Newman responded to Chehade’s original proposal email by saying “most of the time it looks good” and added that she had “some concerns – mainly phraseology”.

Newman’s attorney argued that the OCE investigation had been “spurred on by accusations from an opposing third party and prodded by an ideologically hostile group.”

He also pointed out that the official contract signed by Newman and Chehade “made no mention of a candidacy and instead contained language that eliminated the possibility of any exchange of employment for political support”.

“Recently, a right-wing organization filed a politically motivated complaint with the Congressional Ethics Office (OCE) regarding a dismissed lawsuit. Documents produced during the OCE review overwhelmingly demonstrate that the complaint ethics is completely baseless,” Newman spokesman Pat Mullane said. said in a statement.

The OCE investigates allegations of wrongdoing by House members and refers them to the House Ethics Committee for further review. The House Ethics Committee can then launch a formal investigation and impose penalties if they believe they are warranted.

Updated at 5:27 p.m.

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