Representative Marie Newman (D-IL) was under investigation for allegedly writing a contract is not correct with an opponent to keep him from running against her. But it turns out that rival isn’t the only one to strike a sweet deal with the freshman Democrat; one of his top political allies also has an ally.
When she was removed from the Office of Congressional Ethics late last year, Newman testified that she not only signed documents as a guaranteed 2020 candidate. six-figure job would be Professor Iymen Chehade’s main competitor, but she’s also made a similar deal with her current district chief, Shadin Maali. Furthermore, sources told The Daily Beast, Maali conducted outreach and referrals on behalf of Chehade’s never-before-seen bid for what is now Newman’s Chicagoland seat.
Chehade, a Palestinian-American scholar currently running for a new Illinois House district to be created under reallocation, sued Newman last year for failing to do a good job of negotiating. The two eventually settled the case in court in June. And two days after reaching a non-disclosure agreement, Newman’s campaign began payment to the professor, who it has since called “an important member of our team.”
In the lawsuit, Chehade reiterated that he dropped his candidacy as part of a trade that was supposed to land him a good job in Newman’s congressional office. But civil complaints also appear to connect the Newman campaign’s Maali recruitment to this arrangement.
“In an attempt to get Chehade not to go against her in the preliminary round, Newman recommended Chehade to be the Legislative and Foreign Policy Advisor or County Superintendent. In the summer of 2019, Newman also hired a Palestinian-American woman, Shadin Maali, to be her Campaign Chair,” the lawsuit reads.
Maali, who never responded to repeated requests for comment, began serving as Newman County Chief of Staff when the congresswoman takes office in 2021. She is the only staff member in the entire House with a title. there. Congressional disbursement records show Maali earned $63,277.75 from Newman’s office in the first nine months of 2021. She also earned $11,810.37 from last year’s campaign.
Elected officials often give campaign staff positions in their government offices. But Newman’s legally binding work contracts were above the norm, ethics advocates said — especially since only two people on her team received them.
Jordan Libowitz, communications director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, told The Daily Beast: “I can’t think of ever seeing this happen again. “It makes you ask what the congresswoman has made of it. Why sign employment guarantee contracts for these people? ”
Even more worrying, the deal signed with Maali has never been made public. Libowitz recounts that the contract Newman signed with Chehade bound her to certain positions on the Israel-Palestinian issue.
“The promise of the ability to shape policy in a certain direction is too difficult for a member of Congress,” said Libowitz. “It really makes you question what they would put in other contracts with other people, if it wasn’t just a job offer.”
Chehade told The Daily Beast that Maali’s job was never a consideration in his dealings with Newman, calling her hiring “a separate negotiation” that occurred after he decided not to seek her out. get parliamentary seats.
But even if the negotiations for Maali’s role are in fact “separate”, they are almost as outlandish as those taking place between the congresswoman and Chehade.
When she was removed from office in the Office of Congressional Ethics, Newman testified that Maali introduced her to Chehade and was one of three others aware of the deal the aspiring politician struck with the academy in September. December 2018.
That deal was conditional on Newman deciding against Lipinski a second time — a decision she told the Office of Congressional Ethics that she ultimately didn’t make until March 2019 — but did not include Chehade dropped its campaign in its terms. Newman has denied that she signed the unusual agreement to prevent him from running for her seat.
However, Newman testified that she had another agreement with Maali.
“I knew all the way, you know, even on my first, that she would be part of any governing body because we were best friends and I knew she could does a great job,” Newman said, adding: “We hired her and she’s doing a great job. ”
But the explanation for this contract only makes Maali’s outreach on behalf of Chehade at the beginning of the 2020 cycle seem alien.
Newman’s offers to community leaders and potential donors occurred in the summer of 2018 and could continue into 2019, insiders said. One of these sources also shared a communication, time-stamped at the end of November 2018, in which they and others discussed Maali’s efforts on behalf of Chehade.
Sources said they found Maali’s promotion of Chehade curious, as she was featured in a video promoting Newman’s first run against then-incumbent Congressman Dan Lipinski in February 2018 — just weeks before Lipinski beat Newman in the March primary and just months before sources said she had begun pushing the professor.
Chehade never registered his exploratory committee for Congress with the electoral authorities. But there was clear evidence of a partnership between Maali and Chehade at a time when he was considering buying the House.
Illinois campaign finance records shows that the couple formed a “US Palestine Committee of Political Action” in June 2018, claiming in filings with the state that they “encourage Palestinian Americans to run for and support the pro-peace candidate.” The commission had never raised an amount exceeding $300 in its account at the time of its formation, and it filed its final report in January 2020.
Sources told The Daily Beast they do not believe the PAC intends to support Chehade for Congress, although they speculate that he may be hoping to use it to raise his profile.
Newman’s office ignored any questions about Maali’s relationship with Chehade, instead praising staff and noting her long relationship with the congresswoman.
A spokesperson said: “Shadin Maali has been a volunteer and dedicated supporter of our campaign since 2017. “She continues to be an advocate and a valued member of our team. we”.
The office also asserts that no contract between Maali and Newman has been “executed,” even though Maali has worked in the House and on the campaign trail. Her team will not speak before the congresswoman’s testimony to the Office of Congressional Ethics that she signed such an agreement.
Libowitz, the government expert, urged Newman, Chehade and Maali to clear any outstanding questions by disclosing all documents and details related to the negotiations and their relationship. .
“Be open and transparent about what these contracts are, what they say, and how they came about,” he argued.
An investigation by the House Ethics Committee is currently underway.
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