Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s use of campaign funds for ex ‘body man’ raises ethics questions

Ethics consultants are questioning whether or not the pinnacle of congressional Democrats’ campaign arm, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, used his Home and campaign money for “personal services” with the hiring of an aide — who informed The Publish his function was to function the lawmaker’s “body man.”

Maloney (D-NY) — who in 2020 became chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — employed lifelong Floridian Harold Leath, for whom Maloney’s campaign forked over the cash for the transfer north, in 2014, information present.

The “unusual” and “strange” description of Leath’s function and his whereabouts raised quite a few “red flags,” which may be price a probe, political spending consultants and federal ethics watchdogs informed The Publish.

Leath – who, when he first moved to New York, registered to vote on the Putnam County home the place Maloney and his husband lived – started his tenure with the congressman that spring as an “executive assistant” in his authorities workplace, Home spending information present. He then was categorized by expenditure reviews as a part-time worker and campaign employee.

Reps for Maloney maintained to The Publish that there was no wrongdoing by Maloney or the campaign in reference to Leath’s hiring and function.

Leath just lately defined his job as a “body man” for the politician.

Rep. Maloney employed the aide in 2014.
Ron Sachs – CNP

“I was pretty much with the congressman everywhere he went within the district — if he went to a meeting, if he went out running. I would drive him everywhere he needed to go,” he informed The Publish from his Hell’s Kitchen residence.

“When I first started, my main responsibility was to make sure the congressman and his family never needed anything,” Leath recalled. “I was to be there.”

“Everything I got paid for was either for his campaign, in the beginning, or doing something for him.”

His presence was partially a manner for Maloney to craft a public persona, he defined.

“The body man is one of the most important positions that Sean created to help him and help fix the image he wanted to portray,” stated Leath, now 40 and dealing for an occasion promotion firm.

Whereas Leath days later painted a distinct image of his function, social media posts help Leath’s preliminary account of his shut relationship with Maloney and his kin that appeared to increase past work actions.

In an April 29, 2015 Instagram post, for instance, Maloney’s husband Randy Florke shared a photograph of Leath and the couple’s son and captioned it, “Family and friends watching Essie’s softball game!” Essie is one of Maloney’s three kids.

Leath and others
Leath was seen pictured with Maloney’s household.

Three years later, on July 4, 2018, Florke posted a picture on Facebook of Leath sitting at a desk with him, Maloney and their children at a gathering. 

The subsequent day, Leath shared a photograph of himself swimming in what appears to be the pool on Maloney’s property.  

He additionally attended Maloney and Florke’s June 2014, marriage ceremony, in line with pictures posted on Fb by Florke’s business associate Jesse Escue.

Maloney’s campaign famous that each one employees had been invited to the couple’s marriage ceremony.

Ann Ravel – a former Democratic chairwoman of the Federal Election Fee, the company tasked with implementing campaign finance legislation – when offered with Leath’s statements, stated, “It sounds like he was employed to do personal services,” and expressed that she was “stunned” by the data and quotes from Leath that The Publish offered to her.  

Leath at Maloney's wedding
Leath was additionally in attendance at Maloney’s marriage ceremony.

“Some of those things he’s describing seem extraordinary,” she stated. 

“I’m sort of stunned,” Ravel added. “If it’s a consistent act and a consistent behavior, it’s problematic to use campaign funds on something of that nature.”

Elisa Sumner, a former Dutchess County Democratic Chairwoman, questioned the DCCC chair’s use of public {dollars}. 

“Sean Patrick Maloney has always used his office to benefit himself — not his voters,” she alleged. “The Democratic Party needs leadership that actually puts Democratic principles first, instead of a self-serving politician.”

The federal government affairs head at a watchdog group stated it’s necessary for lawmakers to make sure they separate the non-public from the skilled. 

“The constituents did not elect the family of Sean Patrick Maloney; they elected Sean Patrick Maloney,” stated Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, of the nonpartisan Undertaking on Authorities Oversight. “There needs to be a bright dividing line there.”

Kedric Payne – vice chairman of the Campaign Authorized Middle and former deputy chief counsel for the Workplace of Congressional Ethics — stated, “I think it’s for the congressman’s office to quickly let voters know the answers to these red flags, and depending on what those responses are, the [Office of Congressional Ethics] should investigate.”

“Voters have the right to know that elected officials are following the ethics laws, so this office needs to explain what’s happening here,” he added.

Leath sits with Maloney and his family in 2018.
Leath sits with Maloney and his household in 2018.

A spokesperson for Maloney didn’t dispute that Leath ceaselessly hung out with the congressman and his kin outdoors of work and assisted the household, however stated he was by no means instructed or requested by employees or Maloney to take action. Any private providers Leath, who changed a earlier staffer in assistant function, informed The Publish he carried out had been voluntary, defined the rep.

“Over his 4.5 years with our office, Harold Leath was never asked by anyone, including the congressman, his staff, or family, to do any work for the Congressman or his family in a personal capacity,” stated Matthew McNally, Maloney’s chief of employees, in a ready assertion.

Campaign spokesperson Mia Ehrenberg stated, “Harold Leath provided transportation and logistical support as the congressman’s driver and body person.”

“He was never asked to do any work for the member or his family in a personal capacity by anyone, including the member, his family, the campaign or the official office,” the rep added.

Ehrenberg’s assertion labeled The Publish’s reporting a “hit piece” that’s “entirely and demonstrably false.”

“The accusations that Rep. Maloney employs a ‘body person’ to assist with logistics and transportation and that he provides temporary supporter housing to campaign staff are completely normal practices for campaigns and members of Congress,” she insisted.  

Harlod Leath shared a photo of himself swimming in what appears to be the pool on Sean Patrick Maloney’s property.
Harlod Leath shared a photograph of himself swimming in what seems to be the pool on Sean Patrick Maloney’s property.
Fb/Harold H. Leath Jr.

Maloney was first elected to Congress in 2012, after time within the Invoice Clinton White Home, then as a basic counsel at a tech start-up — which, as The Post reported in June, he repeatedly and falsely claimed to have began “from scratch” — and a lawyer at white shoe corporations.

In 2020, he was chosen to go the DCCC, which helps recruit Home candidates, raises cash and supplies campaign technique.

Now, he’s operating to signify a distinct, newly drawn district in New York Metropolis’s suburbs towards state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi. If he beats Biaggi within the Aug. 23 main, Maloney will face Republican Mike Lawler of Rockland County within the November basic election.

The race is poised to be a close one, in line with a current ballot.

In March 2014, Leath was paid as an “Executive Assistant” in Maloney’s Home workplace, and subsequently acquired compensation in April of that yr as a “part-time employee.”

That month, Leath registered to vote in New York State from the identical Chilly Spring house Maloney and his husband had bought the yr earlier than. Leath seems to be the one Maloney Home workplace or campaign staffer to have registered to vote at Maloney’s house handle, information present.

Leath doing pushups
Leath does pushups whereas working a cellphone financial institution occasion.

Leath — who performed school soccer at West Virginia University and Florida International University, the place he majored in enterprise — stated he didn’t reside with the couple, regardless of registering to vote at their handle. 

“I did not live with the congressman; I lived near there,” he stated. “I lived a few houses down with a gentleman named Chuck McGill who lived in the neighborhood.”

“I just moved up to New York and tried to get my feet wet and hit the ground running with an adequate place to stay.” 

A rep for Maloney’s campaign informed The Publish Leath lived within the congressman’s visitor room for a number of days when he first moved to New York, however subsequently moved to a house owned by one other particular person.

Requested throughout a follow-up cellphone interview why he opted to register on the lawmaker’s house, Leath replied, “I didn’t move into that place yet” referring to the place he lived with McGill, who property information present bought Maloney and his husband their home. 

Leath working at phone bank
Leath informed The Publish that his major duty was to “make sure the congressman and his family never needed anything.”

“I didn’t have a physical address when I moved up to New York from Miami, Florida. When I first moved up there, I didn’t have a place yet, so I was scrambling looking for places,” he continued. “I was staying with mutual friends, that’s all, until I found a place of my own.”

He additionally appeared to vary his tune about how he spent his time whereas on Maloney’s employees following the primary dialog, claiming he didn’t carry out something “personal” and that “everything was related to work.”

Throughout The Publish’s second interview with Leath, the Manhattan resident, who had labored a collection of retail and repair business jobs earlier than being employed and moved to New York by the congressman, gushed about his former employer.

He characterised Maloney as “the best boss in the world” and “one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life.”

Consultants and watchdogs had been skeptical.

“It all seems unseemly, and possibly inappropriate,” Ravel stated of Leath’s preliminary feedback. “It’s unusual.”

“I think it should be investigated, because it seems overly broad, and not for political purposes,” Ravel stated of Leath’s unique description of his job. “This should be looked at certainly. When people contribute to campaigns, they don’t expect it to be used like this.”  

The five-term congressman met Leath by Florke — whom the Democratic legislator married in 2014 and with whom he owned an residence in Miami between 2005 and 2013, in line with Leath and property information.  

“Randy was actually the one who mentioned it to me. I thought it was kind of funny when he mentioned it to me, and I was like, ‘Oh really, yeah, right, OK, we’ll see what happens,’ but the next thing you know, he was like, ‘Let’s do this, we need you here, we can’t have you down there, we’re running for office and we need you here,’” Leath recalled. 

“I was not in politics before I got the job. I had a history of being very sociable, we had a lot of mutual friends, which is how we met, and we hit it off in the sense we liked a lot of the same things, we were very close in the sense of people we knew,” he defined. 

“That’s how everything started. They also had a place in Miami and they actually lived next door to my best friend, whose name is Matt, who was my roommate in college for about four years.” 

A rep for Maloney disputed Leath’s account, insisting Florke by no means influenced his husband’s hiring choices.

Campaign finance records additionally counsel Maloney — whose district consists of Rockland County and components of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties within the Hudson Valley – hung out in Miami Seashore between December 2012 and January 2014.

He was within the Sunshine State for fundraising occasions, in line with a rep for the Home member.

On March 6, 2014 a man shared a photo on Facebook of Leath with another person and captioned the submit, “Celebratory Last meal with Harold as he gets ready for his congressional debut as a Personal Assistant!” 

Maloney, Leath, unidentified person at table
The photograph was captioned, “Celebratory Last meal with Harold as he gets ready for his congressional debut as a Personal Assistant!” 

The identical day, one other good friend posted the identical snap on the social media platform and wrote, “Bon voyage congratulations to Harold who is moving to New York to work for a US Congressman! ”  

The subsequent day, every week earlier than Leath registered to vote in New York State, “Sean Patrick Maloney for Congress” made an $800 payment to the Miami Gardens-based Ocean Transferring and Storage, in line with FEC information. The “purpose of disbursement” was labeled “moving expenses.”  

Maloney’s rep confirmed Wednesday the bills had been for Leath’s relocation from Florida to the Empire State. The apply is authorized however not frequent for aides in Leath’s place, in line with a number of sources acquainted with Home spending practices.

A senior aide for a Republican Home member, who has labored on Capitol Hill for seven years, informed The Publish that it isn’t the usual apply for a campaign to pay for a low-level staffer to maneuver to a distinct state.  

“For a junior person, that seems to be a little bit unusual,” the supply stated. 

Three days later, Leath was paid $1,312.50 for an “executive assistant” function within the Home workplace, in line with the filings for the quarter starting Jan. 1, 2014 and ending March 31 of that yr. A Maloney spokesperson clarified that the greater than $1,300 was his authorities wage for a complete month, not for at some point as the filings counsel, as a result of a typo by a Home worker who didn’t work for Maloney.

On March 13, Leath acquired his first cost from Maloney’s campaign coffers, FEC records show.

Leath succeeded one other staffer who labored in an analogous function, in line with a Maloney rep and Home disbursement information.

John Patrick Maloney
Leath stayed on Maloney’s payroll in his congressional workplace till late summer season 2018.
Ron Sachs – CNP

In an unconventional transfer, Leath the subsequent day registered to vote on the handle of the house in Chilly Spring that Maloney and his husband purchased in 2013.

On March 31, 2014, Escue, Florke’s enterprise associate, posted on Facebook a shirtless photo of Leath.

Then, in April 2015, he for the primary time acquired a paycheck from Maloney’s campaign whereas itemizing his handle at a close-by construction that Putnam County property information describe as a 850-square-foot “cottage” positioned about one-tenth of a mile away on what images present is identical swathe of land, with out different properties between them.

Maloney’s congressional workplace insisted individuals who function physique individuals ceaselessly reside near their boss. The cottage — by which Leath and Maloney’s workplace stated he lived — shares a yard with Maloney’s home.

Leath shirtless
The shirtless photograph was posted with the caption “Sapphire does it.”

In the meantime, Home disbursements between April 1, 2014 by June 30, 2014 reveal that Leath was paid $5,625 for the quarter as a “Part-Time Employee,” and started the job on April 1. 

The aide acquired a increase in December of 2016, as he switched to a constituent providers function, incomes $12,750 per quarter at his peak, in line with House disbursements and Maloney’s workplace. 

Leath stayed on Maloney’s payroll in his congressional workplace until late summer 2018, when Maloney was vying for New York Lawyer Common. His final campaign account payment was delivered in April 2018.

Lawrence Mendelker, an election and campaign finance lawyer, informed The Publish, “It’s a little bit on the unusual side, and in this age of transparency, it would not be unreasonable to ask for an explanation [about] the financial transaction.” 

Samantha Bullock, a spokesperson for the Nationwide Republican Congressional Committee stated, “Sean Patrick Maloney has developed a clear habit of spending taxpayer money in questionable ways that should make every New York voter furious.”

Requested for remark, a rep for the FEC defined that “candidates have wide discretion over the use of their campaign funds, but conversion of campaign funds to personal use by any person is prohibited.” 

The spokesperson, Myles Martin, stated the company’s press workforce “cannot speculate on the permissibility of specific situations.”

Nonetheless, present and former staffers within the Home of Representatives in addition to consultants acquainted with its hiring and spending practices stated one thing appears to odor fallacious.

One GOP staffer added of Leath’s former residence and function, “It seems to blur the boundary between the personal and professional.”

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