By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - The United States on Tuesday sued Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former aide to President Donald Trump and reality television star, saying she knowingly failed to file a required public financial disclosure report after she left the White House.
The government is seeking a civil fine of up to $50,000 from Omarosa, who spent 11 months as director of communications in the White House Office of Public Liaison before her December 2017 dismissal.
Omarosa, as she is typically known, was accused of violating the Ethics in Government Act by not filing the report, which was required because her salary exceeded $124,406, despite several oral and written reminders from White House ethics lawyers.
John Phillips, a lawyer for Omarosa, in an emailed statement called the lawsuit "premature, retaliatory and yet another attempt to silence a dissenting voice."
He said Omarosa had not filed the report because the White House withheld documents she needed to complete it, and that it was "untrue" to suggest her failure to file was knowing and willful, as the complaint alleged.
Omarosa shot to fame as a contestant in the first season of Trump's reality TV show "The Apprentice" in 2004, and was one of Trump's most visible African-American supporters during his successful 2016 presidential run.
But she had what appeared to be an ambiguous role at the White House, where the New York Times said she was a difficult colleague and had been on former chief of staff John Kelly's "no fly list" of aides he deemed unfit to attend serious meetings.
After leaving the White House, she appeared on the CBS reality show "Big Brother," drawing attention for condemning Trump and his administration.
Omarosa also published a memoir, "Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House," last August.
According to the complaint filed with the federal court in Washington, D.C., Omarosa's financial disclosure report had been due by Jan. 18, 2018, one month after she left the White House.
The complaint said the White House later referred the matter to the Department of Justice, and the lawsuit was authorized on March 17, 2019, nearly a year after Omarosa had twice acknowledged receiving reminders to file the report.
The case is U.S. v. Manigault Newman, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia, No. 19-01868.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler, Phil Berlowitz and Richard Chang)