Lawsuit Alleges GOP Congressman Endangered Staff By Flouting Coronavirus Protocols
Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado routinely refused to institute office policies designed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and then fired an aide after he complained about the congressman’s disregard for safety measures. Those are among the allegations contained in a federal lawsuit filed Thursday by Brandon Pope, who served Lamborn as a defense and business adviser until being terminated in December 2020.
Pope says he tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 19, one day after learning that Lamborn and two other Washington, D.C. staffers also had tested positive for the virus. In the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, Pope says the eight-term representative was the source of his infection and alleges that Lamborn misled aides and the Office of the Attending Physician for Congress about his exposure. Lamborn, Pope claims, slept in his Capitol Hill office and had close contact with infected staff members.
Pope is asking a federal judge to find that Lamborn violated workplace rights under the Congressional Accountability Act and to award compensatory and punitive damages.
The 16-page lawsuit also claims that the representative had mostly barred aides in his district office in Colorado Springs from working remotely last year and made few accommodations to ensure social distancing or the wearing of masks. From the start of the pandemic, Pope said, the message from Lamborn and his wife to the staff about the dangers of the virus had been clear. “Both claimed that COVID was a hoax and asserted that the pandemic was being used to alter the course of the congressional and presidential elections,” the lawsuit said.
Lamborn and his chief of staff, Dale Anderson, Pope alleges, repeatedly mocked staffers who spoke up and raised concerns about the virus.
“Representative Lamborn had a reckless and dangerous approach to COVID-19, and he retaliated against Mr. Pope for seeking to protect employees from unsafe conditions in the workplace,” the lawsuit said.