DCCC Chair Hit With Ethics Complaint Over ‘Unusual’ Arrangement With Staffer

New York Democrat Sean Patrick Maloney draws scrutiny for personal relationship with "bodyman"

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D., N.Y.) / Getty Images
August 5, 2022

Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D., N.Y.) could face scrutiny from the Office of Congressional Ethics after another New York Democrat filed an ethics complaint over his personal relationship with a former staffer who was on the campaign and congressional payroll.

New York Democratic county chairwoman Elisa Sumner on Wednesday filed a complaint with the congressional ethics office alleging Maloney paid staffer Harold Leath to provide personal services for himself and his family, which would constitute a misuse of campaign and federal funds. The complaint, filed in the wake of a New York Post report on the congressman's relationship with the staffer, asserts that Leath "outright admitted that [he] performed nongovernmental, noncampaign work for Maloney, and also provided services for Maloney’s family—which by definition was not related to his government responsibilities."

"When I first started, my main responsibility was to make sure the congressman and his family never needed anything," Leath, who served as Maloney's "body man" until 2018, told the New York Post. "I was to be there."

Social media posts flagged by the New York Post corroborate the claim that Leath spent extensive time with Maloney and his family, showing the staffer attended sports events that Maloney's children participated in, was a guest at Maloney's wedding, and swam in his pool. Leath also registered to vote at Maloney's house when he moved to New York, though he denied that he ever lived there.

Leath had no experience in politics before being hired by Maloney. Leath told the Post that he got the job through the congressman's husband, which Maloney's office denied.

Ann Ravel, a former Democratic chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, told the Post she was "stunned" by Maloney's arrangement with Leath and called Leath's description of his responsibilities under Maloney "unseemly" and "unusual."

While Leath initially appeared to admit to providing personal services to Maloney and his family, he walked back his comments in a second interview with the Post, denying that he did any nongovernmental work for the congressman.

Sumner charged in her complaint that Leath likely changed his tone because Maloney or someone close to the congressman coerced him "in an attempt to cover up his behavior." 

Maloney, who faces a competitive primary and general election, has overseen the DCCC’s controversial strategy this election cycle of boosting controversial candidates in Republican primaries, in what some have called a "cynical" ploy for Democrats to pick up congressional seats. 

The Washington Free Beacon reported last year on Maloney and his husband's maskless vacation at a billionaire's estate in France that defied State Department COVID-19 guidance warning against travel to France.