House ethics panel votes to move forward with bribery investigation of Illinois Dem. Marie Newman

The panel says there is 'substantial reason to believe' the Illinois Congresswoman bribed a potential primary opponent
Capitol Hill

The Office of Congressional Ethics announced Monday that there is "substantial reason to believe" that Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-Ill.) bribed a potential primary opponent with a federal job offer to keep him from running in 2020.

A report from the OCE's Board describes the alleged violation, "Rep. Newman, during a successful campaign for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, may have promised federal employment to a primary opponent for the purpose of procuring political support. If Rep. Newman used her candidacy to promise federal employment, she may have violated federal law, House rules, or standards of conduct."

Subsequently, the board unanimously recommended that the committee move forward with a review of the allegation against Newman. 

Attorneys for Newman contend that the probe was "spurred by the charges of an adverse third party, and prodded by an ideologically hostile group." 

The initial accusation against Newman stems from a legal dispute pertaining to an employment contract between the congresswoman and Iymen Chehade, her former foreign policy adviser.

The ethics office cited an email from late 2018, in which Chehade outlines, in a proposed contract with Newman, that he will refrain from announcing or submitting his candidacy for election in exchange for a job from Newman.

"Chehade agrees not to announce or submit his candidacy for election to Congressional Representative of the 3rd District of Illinois. In exchange, Newman will hire Chehade as her Chief Foreign Policy Advisor," reads the document.

Newman's legal counsel says that the contract which was ultimately signed by both parties "contained language that eliminated the possibility of any exchange of employment for political support."