A Democratic staffer working for Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) was fired after he allegedly contacted other congressional staffers and invited them to meetings with Chinese embassy staff.
The National exam (NR) reported that Barbara Hamlett, a veteran assistant and planner, was fired following an investigation by the Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA) into the allegations. Sources told the Conservative magazine that Hamlett would email, phone and even show up at the offices of other members of Congress to invite staff to meetings with Chinese embassy staff.
The SAA contacted Breyer’s office on Tuesday, saying it was aware of two meetings Hamlett tried to arrange at the Charlie Palmer Steak restaurant near Capitol Hill. They ordered the representative to take no action on him until they could notify federal counterintelligence officials.
The following day, following the AAS’s consultation with counterintelligence officials, Breyer’s office conducted its own internal investigation and discovered that Hamlett had attempted to arrange meetings with at least two Republican offices in the Congress. She was then fired.
In a statement to NRa senior manager in Breyer’s office said:
Congressman Beyer was completely unaware of these activities until he was contacted by House Sergeant At Arms[.] As soon as he became aware of it, he followed all the directives given to him by the security officials. The staff member in question is no longer employed by Congressman Beyer’s office.
The statement went on to say Breyer was “deeply upset” by the former aide’s alleged ties to the Chinese Embassy and said he would “remain a fierce critic of China’s record, continue to oppose to the totalitarian repression of its citizens by the CCP, and to hold itself and its staff to the highest professional and ethical standards.”
An anonymous congressional aide said NR that Chinese embassy staff had sent him many emails to meet him about his boss’s legislation, but he ignored it. Hamlett later showed up at her office, saying she was a “friend” of the embassy. He then agreed to meet with embassy staff after she initially offered lunch.
When they met for lunch, Chinese diplomats criticized the legislation backed by his boss. Hamlett was allegedly not involved in the meeting, as she was seated at another table with a member of embassy staff, according to the anonymous aide.
A similar incident occurred with another Republican congressional aide, where Hamlett reportedly showed up at the office door after ignoring embassy emails. It was noted that he viewed his activities as “highly suspicious”.
Another source told the Conservative magazine that although Hamlett was involved in inappropriate behavior with the Chinese Embassy, in her capacity as Congress planner she did not have access to sensitive classified information.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Hamlett has worked for congressional lawmakers since the 1970s, including the late Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania (who was first a Democrat, then a Republican, then a Democrat again), former Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), Ed Towns (D-NY) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY), as well as current representatives Mike Honda (D-CA) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).
You can follow Ethan Letkeman on Twitter at @EthanLetkeman.