A Christmas list is supposed to be a suggestion, not a requirement under threat of termination. In theory, you’re also not supposed to distribute Christmas lists to your subordinates in a professional setting—but Colorado Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn doesn’t appear to care about “supposed to.” According to a new ethics report released Monday, congressional staffers under Lamborn were “supposed to” do all sorts of things—for example, procuring a mandatory holiday gift for Lamborn, high-dollar beer or food preferred.
The report, which was prepared by the Committee on Ethics of the United States House of Representatives, included a list of alleged grievances against Lamborn. It’s got everything: abuses of power, weird spousal privilege, et cetera. But what I’m really excited about is the allegation that Lamborn required underlings to shower him with Christmas presents—beer and food preferred—with a value between $125 and $200.
The report alleges that Lamborn “permitted” his chief of staff, Dale Anderson, “to solicit gifts on his behalf.” The committee writes:
“While there are circumstances when special occasion gift giving between Members and staff is permissible, it is never permissible for a Member to solicit a gift from a subordinate. To the extent Rep. Lamborn failed to oversee Mr. Anderson’s repeated instruction that staffers provide Rep. Lamborn and his family gifts, Rep. Lamborn may be responsible for solicitation of gifts in violation of federal law. 74.”
Staffers claim that holiday gift giving was “obligatory” and that they were provided with “gift guidance” from Anderson, who “instructed each office to provide gifts valued between $125 and $200 for the Lamborns, and also told them it was preferable to give gifts related to beer and food.”
It was preferable to give gifts related to beer and food. I mean, yeah, it’s always preferable to give gifts related to beer and food, but demanding a $200 rare beer basket from one’s subordinates isn’t a great way to spread holiday cheer. One witness also testified that they would “tell Dale Anderson what we were getting to make sure that it was his approval and also the dollar amount was high enough, and that the [C]ongressman and Mrs. Lamborn would be okay with it.” Classy!
The Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger reached out to Lamborn’s office for comment and received a 330-word official statement calling the findings “false and unfounded,” and blasting the “overzealous” OCE and two “disgruntled former staffers” who were “obviously biased witnesses.” Hope Lamborn’s still enjoying his most recent flood of Christmas gifts—looks like the watchdogs have their eye on him.