Allegations that U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado Springs, fired a staffer in retaliation after the staffer sought to protect himself and others during the pandemic are true, another former staffer said in sworn statements filed Friday.
Those sworn statements come from Joshua Hosler, former chair of the El Paso County Republican Party and former district director for Lamborn.
Attorney Les Alderman filed them in federal court as part of Brandon Pope’s lawsuit against the eight-term congressman. Not only does the lawsuit allege Pope was impropertly fired, but it also claims Lamborn showed a “disregard for the rules” of Congress and a “recklessly self-serving approach to his position.”
Lamborn has denied the allegations and requested that the lawsuit be moved from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to the District of Colorado. A representative for Lamborn did not immediately offer a comment in response to Hosler’s sworn statements.
In his sworn statements to Alderman, Hosler — who declined to comment for this article — said Pope was under his direct supervision and served as a model employee. Pope voiced his concerns about Lamborn’s office’s “careless approach” to the pandemic frequently from March 2020 until he was fired by Chief of Staff Dale Anderson that December.
Throughout that time Lamborn referred to the pandemic as a hoax “fabricated to derail then-President Donald Trump’s reelection bid” and Anderson called those concerned about the virus “liberal sissies” who were overreacting, Hosler said in the sworn statement.
Pope had suggested, Hosler said, that Lamborn’s offices should not be fully staffed, that immunocompromised employees should be allowed to work from home and that the office should use partitions to keep staffers safe.
As Pope voiced his concerns, Hosler said Anderson — who has not responded to multiple requests for comment — began to call the staffer “abrasive” and “belligerent,” and accused him of having an “attitude problem.”
Ultimately Lamborn and several of his staff members in Washington, D.C., tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was driving Congressman Lamborn when he learned that his Deputy Chief of Staff had tested positive for COVID-19 and that additional staffers were symptomatic,” Hosler said. “Upon learning this, the Congressman spoke to a physician within the Office of the Attending Physician, but the Congressman misrepresented the facts and falsely told the OAP physician that he had not been in close contact with his staff in D.C. over the previous several days.”
In addition, after multiple people tested positive in October, Hosler said Anderson sent staff members home and told them not to tell anybody — including family members, friends or roommates — that they had been in contact with people who had contracted the virus.
Pope strongly objected, Hosler said, but Anderson ignored him.
Later that month, Hosler said he began exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 and quarantined himself.
“Congressman Lamborn was upset that I was working from home, and he insisted that I try to fast-track my test results, because my absence was somehow interfering with his schedule and travel plans,” he said.
Anderson fired Pope in December, Hosler said.
“Because Mr. Pope had been a great employee, I believe that Representative Lamborn and Chief of Staff Anderson terminated Mr. Pope because he opposed the Office’s reckless approach to the COVID-19 pandemic and the Office’s refusal to implement common-sense safety precautions,” Hosler said in the court documents.
Hosler resigned from Lamborn’s staff in January.
Alongside Hosler’s sworn statements, Alderman also filed a motion opposing Lamborn’s request to relocate the case to Colorado.
While Hosler’s statements do not mention Pope’s allegations that Lamborn used his office in a self-serving manner, emails between the congressman’s staffers — obtained by The Denver Post — showed staffers were asked to donate money for Christmas gifts and received notes about running personal errands for the congressman’s wife, which is specifically prohibited in the House Ethics manual.
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