(CBS4) – Rep. Doug Lamborn, a Republican who represents Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, is accused in a new lawsuit of taking a “reckless and dangerous approach to COVID-19.” Former staffer Brandon Pope filed the lawsuit on Thursday in Washington, D.C. District Court.
In the lawsuit, Pope says he tested positive for COVID-19 in November 2020 and claims Rep. Lamborn was the cause of his infection. In December, Pope claims he was fired in retaliation for raising concerns about an unsafe workplace.
“The workplace safety allegations made by Mr. Pope are unsubstantiated and did not result in the termination of his employment,” stated Casssandra Sebastian, Communications Director for Rep. Lamborn. “Congressman Lamborn looks forward to full vindication as all facts come to light.”
When Lamborn and staff members became infected with COVID-19 in the fall, the lawsuit claims Lamborn told one staffer that he would not wear a mask or isolate and “did not care” if his employees got sick. When D.C. staff was sent home due to a COVID-19 outbreak, they were told not to tell anyone they had been potentially exposed to the virus, according to the lawsuit.
Pope worked as a Defense and Business Advisor in Lamborn’s Colorado Springs District Office. Prior to his work in politics, Pope served as a Captain in the United States Marine Corps and was deployed in a combat role to Afghanistan, the lawsuit states.
Pope claims in the lawsuit that Lamborn used his position as a Member of Congress to the personal benefit of his family. Lamborn let his son live in a Congressional storage area in the basement of the U.S. Capitol for a period of weeks, the lawsuit claims. When Lamborn’s son applied to federal jobs, Pope claims staffers were required to help the son apply and prepare for interviews.
The lawsuit lists a number of personal errands Pope and other staffers were allegedly asked to perform, including moving furniture and picking up personal mail and legal documents. Staff members were also compelled to give Christmas and birthday gifts to Lamborn and his wife, the lawsuit claims.
“Staff were also made to believe that accepting invitations for family events, including meals with the Lamborn family, was required in order to remain employed,” the lawsuit states. “Indeed, information that staff shared widely in the office was that one or two staffers had been terminated for declining such an invitation.”
When Pope suggested at-risk employees should be allowed to telework, the lawsuit claims Lamborn’s Chief of Staff mocked the safety protocols. In March and April 2020, Pope claims Rep. Lamborn and his wife both said the pandemic was a hoax “being used to alter the course of the congressional and presidential elections.”
The lawsuit alleges Lamborn violated the Congressional Accountability Act, which protects congressional employees under the Occupational Safety Health Act of 1970. Pope seeks a trial and compensation to cover alleged pain and suffering, income lost due to his unemployment and attorneys’ fees.