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

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

Maloney (D-NY) — who in 2020 turned chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee — employed lifelong Floridian Harold Leath, for whom Maloney’s campaign forked over the money 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 value a probe, political spending specialists and federal ethics watchdogs informed The Post.

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 office, House spending information present. He then was categorised by expenditure studies as a part-time worker and campaign employee.

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

Leath not too long ago 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 Post from his Hell’s Kitchen condo.

“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 partly 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 company.

While 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 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 youngsters 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, wedding ceremony, in keeping with pictures posted on Facebook by Florke’s business associate Jesse Escue.

Maloney’s campaign famous that every one workers have been invited to the couple’s wedding ceremony.

Ann Ravel – a former Democratic chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, the company tasked with implementing campaign finance law – 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 knowledge and quotes from Leath that The Post offered to her.  

Leath was additionally in attendance at Maloney’s wedding 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 authorities affairs head at a watchdog group stated it’s necessary for lawmakers to make sure they separate the personal 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 Project on Government Oversight. “There needs to be a bright dividing line there.”

Kedric Payne – vp of the Campaign Legal Center and former deputy chief counsel for the Office 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 household in 2018.

A spokesperson for Maloney didn’t dispute that Leath incessantly frolicked with the congressman and his kin exterior of work and assisted the household, however stated he was by no means instructed or requested by workers or Maloney to take action. Any personal providers Leath, who changed a earlier staffer in assistant function, informed The Post he carried out have 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 workers, 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 Post’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 photograph of himself swimming in what seems to be the pool on Sean Patrick Maloney’s property.
Facebook/Harold H. Leath Jr.

Maloney was first elected to Congress in 2012, after time within the Bill Clinton White House, 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 move the DCCC, which helps recruit House candidates, raises money and gives campaign technique.

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

The race is poised to be an in depth one, in keeping with a latest ballot.

In March 2014, Leath was paid as an “Executive Assistant” in Maloney’s House office, and subsequently obtained compensation in April of that year as a “part-time employee.”

That month, Leath registered to vote in New York State from the identical Cold Spring dwelling Maloney and his husband had bought the year earlier than. Leath seems to be the one Maloney House office or campaign staffer to have registered to vote at Maloney’s dwelling handle, information present.

Leath does pushups whereas working a telephone financial institution occasion.

Leath — who performed school soccer at West Virginia University and Florida International University, the place he majored in business — stated he didn’t live 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 Post 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 individual.

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

Leath informed The Post that his essential accountability 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 alter his tune about how he spent his time whereas on Maloney’s workers following the primary dialog, claiming he didn’t carry out something “personal” and that “everything was related to work.”

During The Post’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.

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

Experts and watchdogs have 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 authentic 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 way of Florke — whom the Democratic legislator married in 2014 and with whom he owned an condo in Miami between 2005 and 2013, in keeping 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 selections.

Campaign finance records additionally recommend Maloney — whose district contains Rockland County and components of Westchester, Putnam and Dutchess counties within the Hudson Valley – frolicked in Miami Beach between December 2012 and January 2014.

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

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

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 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, per 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 Moving and Storage, in keeping with FEC information. The “purpose of disbursement” was labeled “moving expenses.”  

Maloney’s rep confirmed Wednesday the bills have been for Leath’s relocation from Florida to the Empire State. The observe is authorized however not common for aides in Leath’s position, in keeping with a number of sources acquainted with House spending practices.

A senior aide for a Republican House member, who has labored on Capitol Hill for seven years, informed The Post that it isn’t the usual observe 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 House office, in keeping with the filings for the quarter starting Jan. 1, 2014 and ending March 31 of that year. A Maloney spokesperson clarified that the greater than $1,300 was his authorities wage for a whole month, not for someday as the filings recommend, because of a typo by a House worker who didn’t work for Maloney.

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

Leath succeeded one other staffer who labored in the same function, in keeping with a Maloney rep and House disbursement information.

Ron Sachs – CNP

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

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

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

Maloney’s congressional office insisted people who function body people incessantly live near their boss. The cottage — wherein Leath and Maloney’s office stated he lived — shares a yard with Maloney’s home.

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

Meanwhile, House disbursements between April 1, 2014 by way of 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 obtained a elevate in December of 2016, as he switched to a constituent providers function, incomes $12,750 per quarter at his peak, in keeping with House disbursements and Maloney’s office. 

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

Lawrence Mendelker, an election and campaign finance lawyer, informed The Post, “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 National 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.”

Asked 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 staff “cannot speculate on the permissibility of specific situations.”

Still, present and former staffers within the House of Representatives in addition to specialists acquainted with its hiring and spending practices stated one thing appears to smell unsuitable.

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