By Andrew Thornebrooke
Republicans have called for an investigation following the revelation that an aide to a Democratic lawmaker was fired for facilitating meetings on behalf of the Chinese embassy in Washington.
Barbara Hamlett worked on Capitol Hill for 34 years and was working as a scheduler for Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) at the time she allegedly contacted several Congressional staffers and attempted to arrange meetings between them and various officials working at the Chinese embassy, the National Review reported.
A GOP office reported Hamlett to the House Sergeant at Arms after she allegedly requested one such meeting with a Republican staffer, the report said. A probe was launched into her conduct, which found that she had attempted to arrange the meetings for China.
The incident has incensed GOP leadership, which has denounced the creeping influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in American politics.
“The Chinese Communist Party wants to establish influence over every aspect of American life, especially our own government,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in an email.
“I’m proud that my work in Congress has gotten me banned and sanctioned by the Chinese Communist Party. I hope it sends a clear message to Beijing that Washington will never be beholden to the Chinese Communist Party.”
Beyer’s office said that it had no knowledge of Hamlett’s activities in this regard and fired her immediately after being informed of the activities.
“Congressman Beyer was totally unaware of these activities prior to being contacted by the House Sergeant at Arms,” said Aaron Fritschner, Beyer’s deputy chief of staff, according to a 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.”
The sacking, however, was not enough to prevent the incident from spilling over into the upcoming 2022 midterm elections.
Karina Lipsman, Beyer’s GOP challenger for Virginia’s 8th District, has called for an investigation into the extent of Beyer’s ties to the CCP and whether Hamlett’s activities impacted national security.
“The extent of Beyer‘s ties to the Chinese government needs to be determined, so the level of national security risk can be determined. His office has clearly been compromised,” Lipsman said in a statement to the Washington Times.
By midday Oct. 31, just three days after the incident was first reported, Lipsman’s campaign website boasted a new tab. Titled “The Beyer/China Situation,” the page accuses Beyer of being compromised by the CCP and unfit to continue his duties in Congress.
“Don Beyer has been compromised,” the page says. “Our district houses the Pentagon and the C.I.A. The reality is that he is no longer fit to hold office.”
“This district, probably more than any other, keeps America safe. We can’t afford to have a question mark in office representing us.”
Beyer’s office and the House Sergeant at Arms did not return requests for comment.