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Horsford's extramarital affair with former Senate staffer shows how narrow House rules are

Chris Marquette, CQ-Roll Call on

Published in News & Features

Linder, who gave $1,000 to Horsford's campaign in 2018, did not respond to requests for an interview.

Horsford's second term in Congress began in 2018 when he won the seat formerly occupied by Ruben Kihuen, a fellow Democrat. Kihuen chose not to run for reelection a day after the House Ethics Committee announced it was investigating whether he sexually harassed women he worked with.

The Ethics Committee formally rebuked Kihuen's sexual harassment of women, in what is called a reproval, for his misconduct and found he "made persistent and unwanted advances towards women who were required to interact with him as part of their professional responsibilities." In testimony deemed "credible" by the Ethics panel, a campaign staffer who worked for Kihuen told the committee that Kihuen touched her thigh on two occasions, commented on her appearance, suggested they should get a hotel room together and asked her if she would ever cheat on her boyfriend.

Molly Forgey, a spokesperson for the Nevada Democratic Party, did not respond to a request for comment. Specifically, she did not answer questions about the circumstances of two back-to-back Democrats from the same congressional district who have been mired in scandal. She did not answer a question about whether this calls into question the way in which they vet their candidates.

Linder told the Review-Journal that Horsford appeared on her young son's YouTube show, which has 46 subscribers, in April. Horsford spoke about the coronavirus pandemic on the show's inaugural episode, titled "Namaste," which Linder claimed was filmed using Horsford's congressional staff.

For each Congress, members are provided with a Members' Representational Allowance to conduct their official duties, including staff salaries, travel and office equipment. This money can only be used for official expenses.

Asked if Horsford filmed the YouTube show segment using official resources, whether it was filmed in Horsford's congressional office and for what reason the lawmaker took the time to participate, Bostedt did not address any of those questions.

A complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics was filed against Horsford by Americans for Public Trust, a Republican-led organization, in which they cite the YouTube show appearance as a possible violation of House rules.

Neither the House Ethics Committee nor the Office of Congressional Ethics provided any clarity on whether Horsford could face any scrutiny from them.

 

Tom Rust, staff director for the House Ethics Committee, declined to comment. William Beaman, a spokesperson for the Office of Congressional Ethics, also declined comment.

In her "Mistress for Congress" podcast, Linder said Horsford "looked out for me over the years from anything from a job recommendation to financial support."

Bostedt said, "Steven never used campaign or official funds to provide financial support to Ms. Linder."

Horsford has no plans to resign and faces a crowded June 9 primary.

"This former personal relationship has no bearing on the congressman's ability to fight for the people of Nevada and he fully intends to serve them in this Congress, and beyond," Bostedt said.

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