News & Politics

What Happens When the Watchdog Is Just a Horn Dog?

UNITED STATES - AUGUST 15: Omar Ashmawy, staff director at the Office of Congressional Ethics. (Photo By Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call) (CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

I suppose things in this country could get weirder. Not sure, but it would probably have something to do with aliens.

Nah. Too pedestrian. How about this? The staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics — the guy in charge of investigating sexual harassment by congressmen — is sued for “verbally abusing and physically assaulting” women?

Roll Call:

Omar Ashmawy’s case goes back to his involvement in a late-night brawl in 2015 in Milford, Pennsylvania, according to Foreign Policy.

The suit includes a range of allegations related to his behavior that night and in subsequent years.

Ashmawy is named in the congressional documents as the person who presented investigations into allegations against former Rep. John Conyers Jr. of sexual harassment that led him to resign.

Ashmawy is accused of “threatening to use his position as staff director and chief counsel of the Office of Congressional Ethics to induce a criminal proceeding to be brought against Plaintiff and/or others” according to the lawsuit reviewed by Foreign Policy.

Ashmawy denied the allegations against him.

“To be clear, I did not harass anyone that evening, physically or verbally,” he said. “To the contrary, I was the victim of a wholly unprovoked assault for which those responsible were investigated, arrested and charged. Any allegation to the contrary is unequivocally false.”

The report said that Ashmawy got into an altercation at a bar in the Milford area that left him bloodied in the back of a police car.

Shortly after, three men were arrested for assaulting Ashmawy. Court documents Foreign Policy reviewed show that three women, including the bartender, accused him of harassing and physically assaulting them.

A real charmer, this Ashmawy:


Foreign Policy:

According to the complaint, Martucci on the night of Feb. 14, 2015, witnessed “an extremely violent and belligerent” Ashmawy become verbally abusive toward two women at Milford’s Dimmick Inn, Dawn Jorgenson — the wife of John Jorgenson, the owner of the bar — and Joey Lynn Smith, a bartender there.

Martucci also said he saw Ashmawy physically assaulting Dawn Jorgenson and Christina Floyd, another woman at the bar, a claim echoed in police statements given by the women and reviewed by FP.

According to a three-page statement dated March 12, 2015, Dawn Jorgenson said she witnessed Ashmawy “clearly sexually harassing” the bartender throughout the course of the evening and saw his behavior spiral toward physical violence. “You’ll give me drinks, but you won’t fuck me,” Ashmawy allegedly said to the bartender, according to Dawn Jorgenson’s written statement.

She said she then saw Ashmawy block the bartender with his body and curse at her, and grab her by the wrists. Dawn Jorgenson said when she tried to intervene, Ashmawy turned against her. “He’s holding my wrist so tightly that he falls down to the ground landing to the left of me,” she wrote in her statement.

She said her husband, John Jorgenson, came over to help and pulled Ashmawy away, taking him outside.

In statements given to police, the third woman, Christina Floyd, provided a similar account. “I watched each time Omar would come down and verbally sexually harass the bartender as he ordered drinks,” Floyd wrote in her statement, describing an increasingly angry Ashmawy confronting the bartender.

The irony of a guy in charge of investigating congressmen for unethical behavior being caught in, well, unethical behavior is only part of this story. How about a dose of towering hypocrisy?

Ashmawy used his official position to try and intimidate local law enforcement into seeing the incident his way.

An email reviewed by FP from Ashmawy, using his congressional affiliation, to the police chief and officials at the district attorney’s office accuses them of not handling the case properly.

“As of today it has been over five weeks since I was assaulted. To date, the police department’s investigation is not complete and charges have not been filed. I am deeply concerned,” he wrote in the email, which is signed with his congressional title and work mail address.

Ashmawy cites his injuries, which he said included a facial fracture and a “bruised and bloodied” eye.

In the same email, Ashmawy references his own work conducting investigations, and indicates that if charges aren’t filed the case might attract high-level attention in the capital.

Who, then, investigates the investigator? Do we really want a sexual harasser investigating sexual harassers? Have things really gotten this crazy in Washington and the U.S.?

I have a very bad feeling that things are going to get a lot crazier before they get better.