A staffer for Democratic Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia has been fired after an investigation found she had acted improperly and sought to gather information from other congressional staffers on behalf of the Chinese embassy.
Mr. Beyer’s office said the lawmaker was unaware of such activities and “deeply upset” after being notified of the situation by the House Sergeant at Arms. The news was first reported by National Review.
“Congressman Beyer was totally unaware of these activities prior to being contacted by the House Sergeant at Arms,” Aaron Fritschner, Mr. Beyer’s deputy chief of staff, told the outlet. “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 Sergeant at Arms office said the former staffer, identified as Barbara Hamlett, requested meetings and meals with staff on behalf of individuals at the Chinese embassy.
The office also reported that the staffer had sought to facilitate personal meetings between congressional staff and Chinese embassy staff in at least two Republican offices.
In one instance where a staffer had agreed to a coffee meeting, the aide said he was confronted by an embassy official who had issues with his boss’s proposed legislation.
Mr. Beyer’s office reasserted the congressman will continue to remain hawkish on Beijing, including his support for Taiwan and vocal criticism of the labor abuse of the Muslim Uyghur population, which China denies.
Mr. Beyer was one of several Democrats who attended the Taiwan trip with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August, which the Chinese government opposed.