Late last month, the Office of Congressional Ethics discovered that Newman had gone to considerable lengths to keep campaign adviser Iymen Chehade from potentially running in the 2020 Democratic primary. In a move that went well beyond anything that would be considered remotely acceptable in the name of splitting the anti-Lipinski vote, Newman promised to hire Chehade as her chief foreign policy adviser if she defeated Lipinski in the primary and went on to victory in November. In return, Chehade would not run for the Democratic nomination. Chehade sued when Newman reneged on hiring him; the suit was settled late last June, with both parties signing nondisclosure agreements.
As unseemly as that was, what The Daily Beast uncovered on Thursday is even worse. In October 2018, Chehade emailed Newman recalling a proposal they had discussed earlier in the week. According to this proposal, Newman would not only hire Chehade on her congressional staff, but would “commit” to a number of pro-Palestine positions. When Newman reviewed this proposal, she replied, “Most of it looks good. Couple of concerns-mostly phraseology.”
These bullet points never made it into the final contract. But the mere fact that Newman was even thinking about effectively putting her policy positions up for sale as a condition of hiring someone was unseemly at best.
Regardless of her previous stances, the practice of negotiating on political positions—as well as potential votes on any subject—is well outside the scope of standard congressional ethics, even if those discussions are not finalized in writing as part of an ultimate agreement.
“Job negotiations are a thing, but I’ve never heard of a potential member of congress negotiating away the ability to have the final call on their positions,” Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Daily Beast. Libowitz added that the negotiations between Chehade and Newman most definitely raised ethical questions.
While Newman had always made no secret of the fact that she was pro-Palestine, a number of her public positions have hewed closely to Chehade’s demands. Notably, she was one of only eight Democrats to oppose the Iron Dome.
Newman was already in a tough primary battle for a second term. After redistricting threw her home in La Grange into the majority-Latino district of Rep. Chuy Garcia, Newman announced she would challenge fellow Democratic Rep. Sean Casten in IL-06. While that district is numerically Casten’s district, geographically it’s more Newman’s district; Newman would retain 41% of her old territory.
The only thing we ought to be hearing from Newman is her resignation. If she had even considered auctioning off her policy stances to keep a potential rival out of the primary, she has no business being in office.