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Omarosa Manigault Newman Loses a Round Against DOJ Over Civil Lawsuit

Omarosa Manigault Newman was dealt a blow by a federal judge on Thursday after her motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) against her last summer was denied.

In a minute order filed by U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon, the former White House Office of Public Liaison director of communications and, more famously, the serially reoccurring contestant on President Donald Trump’s reality television show The Apprentice, lost a bid to have the DOJ’s June 2019 complaint seeking a $50,000 civil fine against her tossed.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia did not elaborate on the reasons why her motion was dismissed in the brief order.

While Manigault Newman’s brief tenure at the White House was marked by controversy and her time post-federal employment has also seen its own fair share of scandal related to her relationship with Trump, the lawsuit was filed against her due to an alleged lack of paperwork.

Filed under the Ethics in Government Act of (EIGA), the lawsuit claims that Manigault Newman never submitted a required ethics disclosure form after being let go in late December 2017.

According to that lawsuit, “on or before December 19, 2017, Ms. Manigault Newman received a post-government employment briefing in which she was advised of her obligations under the EIGA to file a termination financial disclosure report by January 18, 2018.”

The lawsuit notes the statutory background:

The EIGA requires individuals who occupy covered positions to file a final public financial disclosure report on or before the thirtieth day after leaving their position, unless they have accepted another covered position. …

Section 104(a) of the EIGA authorizes the Attorney General to bring a civil action in federal district court against any individual “who knowingly and willfully fails to file or report any information that such individual is required to report” under the EIGA.

The complaint accused Maniguault Newman of being expressly aware of her obligations under the federal law and sought to prove her awareness by citing an exchange between the defendant and a White House ethics attorney.

“On December 29, 2017, an ethics attorney in the White House Counsel’s Office sent Ms. Manigault Newman an email reminding her of her obligation to file her termination financial disclosure report by January 18, 2018,” the filing alleges. “Although the email addressed used was the personal email address provided by Ms. Manigault Newman to the White House Counsel’s Office…she did not respond.”

Repeat attempts to contact Manigault Newman via email also went unanswered, according to the lawsuit–including a warning that she was likely to be assessed a $200 late filing fee if she filed after January 18, 2018. The date came and went, according to the complaint, and several additional emails were sent. The lawsuit claims that Manigault Newman finally responded to those multiple outreach efforts in late March 2018 “by calling the ethics attorney to discuss the overdue termination financial disclosure report.”

The lawsuit further alleges that Manigault Newman also responded to an email sent by then-Deputy Counsel to the President Stefan Passantino “but thereafter did not filed the overdue termination financial disclosure report.”

[image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images]

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