A longtime congressional staffer was fired by her boss, Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA), after it was revealed she was allegedly working with the Chinese Embassy to set up meetings with other offices.
An investigation conducted by the House sergeant at arms discovered the alleged impropriety by the staffer and informed Beyer’s office on Tuesday. The staffer was subsequently fired, according to National Review.
“Congressman Beyer was totally unaware of these activities prior to being contacted by the House Sergeant At Arms,” Aaron Fritschner, Beyer’s deputy chief of staff, told National Review.
“As soon as he learned of them, he followed every directive he was given by security officials. The staffer in question is no longer employed by the office of Congressman Beyer,” Fritschner added.
Beyer’s former aide, identified as Barbara Hamlett, has worked in congressional offices since the 1970s, according to her LinkedIn page.
She was a scheduler in Beyer’s office and has previously worked for lawmakers including the late Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), former Rep. Diane Watson (D-CA), Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA), Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), and former Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY).
In recent months, Hamlett reportedly emailed, called, and showed up at other congressional offices inviting staffers to meetings with Chinese Embassy officials.
Two of the proposed meetings were reportedly made “in the context of meals,” according to National Review, including one at Charlie Palmer Steak, a popular DC steakhouse.
The requests apparently alarmed staffers at the other congressional offices enough that they contacted the office of the sergeant at arms to investigate. The sergeant at arms reportedly contacted federal counterintelligence authorities about the matter.
One congressional aide told National Review that Hamlett came to his office and asked him to “step out into the hallway” where she informed him that she is “friends with the [Chinese] Embassy and that they have been trying to get contact with me.”
After agreeing to a coffee meeting, the aide said Hamlett sat at a different table with a female Chinese Embassy official while he had a “one-on-one discussion with a male embassy staffer,” who didn’t like a piece of legislation introduced by the staffer’s boss.
The Post has reached out to the House sergeant at arms for comment.