Bribery Revelation Against Top Democrat Turns Serious

( An Illinois freshman congresswoman is on the hot-seat for allegedly trying to bribe a potential political rival to keep him from running against her in the 2020 primary.

On Monday, the Office of Congressional Ethics recommended that the House Ethics Committee investigate the allegations that Chicago-area Democrat Marie Newman offered a congressional office post to Iymen Hamman Chehade to keep him out of the race.

Chehade, a professor at the Columbia College and Art Institute of Chicago, signed a contract with Newman in 2018 to accept a position that paid between $135,000 and $140,000 a year starting in January 2021 should Newman win the election.

Newman won the election, but the promised job never materialized. So in January 2021, Chehade sued to enforce the contract and the case was settled in June.

While the settlement may have brought an end to embarrassing litigation, it opened a whole new can of worms for Newman as the details of the settlement became part of the ethics probe against the freshman Congresswoman.

The Office of Congressional Ethics said it found “substantial reason to believe” that Newman promised a federal job to a primary opponent “for the purpose of procuring political support.”

According to the OCE report, in his lawsuit, Chehade acknowledged that he chose not to challenge Newman in 2020 based on her promise to hire him both as a foreign policy advisor and either District Director or Legislative Director in her congressional office.

Congresswoman Newman’s attorney denies her job offer to Chehade was a quid pro quo, arguing that when she and Chehade signed the employment agreement in December 2018, Newman had not yet declared she was running in 2020. What’s more, the contract makes no mention of Chehade not running against her.

Newman’s lawyers argued the ethics case against her should be dropped because the contract was unenforceable and Newman violated no “law, rule, or standard of conduct.”

The ethics investigation is a complication for Newman who, due to redistricting in Illinois, is already locked in a primary battle with her Democrat colleague Congressman Sean Casten.