WASHINGTON, D.C. (KRDO) -- Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn is being accused of a "dangerous" approach to COVID-19 by a former staffer in a new federal lawsuit filed Thursday, and the lawsuit claims Lamborn retaliated against the staffer for raising concern about "unsafe conditions in the workplace."
The lawsuit, filed by a former military aide in Lamborn's office, claims that 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."
We reported in November when Rep. Lamborn contracted COVID-19. At the time, his office said he was following all CDC guidelines during recovery, but no information was given about where he contracted the virus or if it had been transmitted through his office.
The lawsuit claims that the transmissions started in early October 2020, when several employees in the D.C. office tested positive for COVID-19. Lamborn reportedly closed that office temporarily and instructed those employees to work from home while the Colorado Springs district office would cover calls. The lawsuit claims Lamborn's Chief of Staff Dale Anderson instructed staff not to disclose anything about the infections or the closure.
The former staffer says Lamborn claimed he would "not allow House Leadership to dictate how he ran his office," and that not all employees were permitted to socially distance. Lamborn allegedly told one staffer that he "did not care" if his employees got infected, according to the lawsuit.
According to the former staffer's lawsuit, Lamborn was in close contact with his communications director and District Director, but they weren't allowed to work from home or isolate.
Additionally, the former staffer claims that Lamborn learned on Oct. 5 that his deputy chief of staff and several other D.C. staffers had tested positive for COVID-19, but he lied to the Office of the Attending Physician about being in close contact with them. The lawsuit claims Lamborn told the OAP he hadn't been in close contact with his staff in D.C., but he was in close proximity with his staff and had actually slept in his D.C. office during the previous voting week.
According to court documents, the staffer who filed the lawsuit tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 19, and he claims that Rep. Lamborn "was the direct or indirect cause of his infection"
The staffer claims he "asserted his opposition to Lamborn's reckless practices" and stood up for others in the office after more staffers began contracting COVID-19. He claims that in response, Lamborn and Anderson terminated his employment on Dec. 7.
The lawsuit also brings up several other claims by the former staffer; those claims include:
- Lamborn allowed his son to live in a storage area in the basement of the US Capitol for a period of weeks;
- Lamborn's office required staff to run personal errands for Lamborn's family, including picking up personal mail, loading furniture into a vacation home, and couriering personal legal documents;
- Staffers were compelled to give Christmas and birthday gifts to the congressman and his wife
- Lamborn's wife was allowed to take office supplies for her own personal use
- Staff had to use official time to perform campaign work, including preparing campaign mailings and preparing for campaign events.
Rep. Lamborn's Communications Director Cassandra Sebastian issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit.
“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.”Cassandra Sebastian, communications director for Rep. Doug Lamborn's office
We're working on getting more information on this story, check back for updates.