(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against former White House staffer and reality TV star Omarosa Manigault Newman, alleging she failed to file a legally required financial disclosure after she was fired from her job in the Trump administration.
The suit alleges Manigault Newman, who worked as the director of communications in the White House office of public liaison, violated the federal Ethics in Government Act. The law requires some federal employees to file public financial disclosure reports; the Justice Department asserts Manigault Newman was required to file a final public financial disclosure report within 30 days of her December 2017 termination, but says she failed to do so. The lawsuit describes repeated emails from White House officials reminding her that she needed to file the disclosure.
As part of the lawsuit, the government is asking a federal judge to compel Manigault Newman to file the financial disclosure report and impose a penalty against her of up to $50,000.
In a statement to The Associated Press, Manigault Newman said she has been attempting to retrieve six boxes of personal items, including financial records she needs to complete the report. “The White House has admitted that they have my things in multiple emails and phone calls and yet refuse to return these items,” she said. “This lawsuit as well as the arbitration is political retribution from the White House plain and simple.”
John M. Phillips, a lawyer for Manigault Newman, released a statement calling the lawsuit “premature, retaliatory and yet another attempt to silence a dissenting voice.”
Manigault Newman, who was a contestant on President Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” reality show, faced backlash from Trump after saying he used racial slurs on the show’s set. She also released audio recordings of private White House conversations as part of a rollout tour last year for her book “Unhinged.” The president has said that Manigault Newman is a “lowlife” and that she was “wacky and deranged.”
Trump’s campaign filed an arbitration action against Manigault Newman last year, alleging she breached a secrecy agreement. She has acknowledged signing a confidentiality agreement with the campaign in 2016.