Ethics complaint filed against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney after Post’s report on potential staff misuse

An ethics complaint has been filed against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the head of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, over potential misuse of a staffer for personal services — after a Post report revealed an aide allegedly worked as the congressman’s personal “body man.”

Elisa Sumner, the former chairwoman of the Dutchess County Democratic Party who is backing Maloney’s rival Sen. Alessandra Biaggi in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary for the 17th congressional district, registered her complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics. 

“I am writing to request an official Office of Congressional Ethics investigation into Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney’s reported abuse of his taxpayer-funded government staff,” Sumner said in the letter obtained by The Post.

The complaint repeatedly cites The Post story, published Sunday, about the “body man,” Harold Leath.

“As you may already be aware, the New York Post reported on July 31, 2022 that: Maloney’s former `body man’,  a government staffer, said that, `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. When I first started, my main responsibility was to make sure the congressman and his family never needed anything.”

Harold Leath spoke to The Post in his Hells Kitchen apartment. Leath was previously hired by Rep. Maloney.
Robert Miller

The complaint notes that Leath frequently spent time with the congressman and his kin outside of work and even temporarily registered to vote and resided at Maloney’s residence.

“There are several overlapping and deeply troubling ethics violations reported in this story that demand scrutiny: the government staffer outright admitted that they performed non-governmental, non-campaign work for Maloney, and also provided services for Maloney’s family – which by definition was not related to his government responsibilities,” Sumner said.

Sumner said Maloney and associates may have attempted to “coerce” or “cover up”  because Leath backtracked on some statements in a second interview with a Post reporter.

“Congressional staffers are hard-working public servants that deserve dignity in the workplace. Their job is to help craft public policy and assist constituents, not pick up dry cleaning,” Sumner said.

“Your watchdog office has previously done admirable work investigating comparable abuses committed by other Democrats and Republicans alike. But a live-in government staffer who admitted his job consisted of serving the entire Maloney family may be the most egregious example of this behavior yet. I urge you to thoroughly investigate this scandal and, if substantiated, ensure that Congressman Maloney’s illegal and degrading workplace practices are ended.”

Rep. Maloney and Leath smile after participating in a "Color Blaze" run.
Maloney and Leath smile after participating in a “Color Blaze” run.
Instagram

The Office of Congressional Ethics, as is custom, declined comment. It will issue a public statement if it finds wrongdoing.

A Maloney campaign rep said he did nothing wrong.

“As our team told the Post originally, there is absolutely no basis to these slanderous accusations. Rep. Maloney has always followed campaign finance and House ethics rules and any investigation, though meritless, would prove that,” said Maloney campaign spokeswoman Mia Ehrenberg. 

Leath shared a photo of himself swimming in what appears to be the pool on Rep. Maloney's property.
Leath shared a photo of himself swimming in what appears to be the pool on Maloney’s property.
Facebook/Harold H. Leath Jr.

She called the accusation of coercion “a ridiculous smear that is categorically false and based on nothing but Sumner’s malicious guesswork.”

Because of the Democrats’ redistricting debacle, Maloney and Biaggi are running in a court-drawn 17th CD in the suburbs and Hudson Valley north of New York City.

Instead of facing off against Maloney or Rep. Jamaal Bowman, suburban Rep. Mondaire Jones decided to relocate and run in the Tenth Congressional District covering lower Manhattan and brownstone Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, Maloney spokeswoman Ehrenberg dismissed complainant Sumner as a longtime Maloney foe.

“Elisa Sumner is a vocal Biaggi supporter who has a longstanding, personal vendetta against Congressman Maloney and does not even live in our district, or New York State for that matter. Before her exodus to Florida, Sumner’s time as Dutchess Chairwoman was marked with near constant failure, regular in-fighting, and personal score-settling,” the Maloney rep said.