The House Ethics Committee may soon conduct a complete investigation of Congresswoman Laura Richardson (D-CA). She has been under investigation for some time now for allegations that her staff undertook political activities while working on government time.
As reported this week by John Bresnahan in Politico, Ethics Committee staff members have been looking into potential Richardson violations since last year. At isssue is whether some of Richardson senior staff pressured subordinates to work on her reelection campaign matters during official time. This is against House rules and federal law.
This is not the first time Richardson has been under Ethics Committee investigation since winning a special election to fill a vacancy in 2007. The Office of Congressional Ethics and the House Ethics committee both investigated a situation in which it appeared Richardson may have had an unethical deal worked out to maintain a home of hers that had gone into foreclosure. In 2010, the committee concluded that Richardson did not knowingly violate any rules.
Four months after the mortgage controversy was put to rest, new allegations regarding improper use of her congressional staff arose and in March of this year one of her staff members, Maria Macias, in a resignation letter obtained by Politico stated to Richardson that she “was asked to do a task or coordinate an event that was on the ethical borderline and not in my job description.”
Macias later told the Press Telegram of Long Beach that, “She (Richardson) would just call me and tell them to come to the campaign office. She would ask me to schedule people for campaign fundraisers for other elected officials.”
Currently, Politico reports that Richardson’s campaign committee is hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and a full investigation could seriously hurt he chances of reelection as she is already facing a potential three way primary in a newly drawn district.
NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm commented on this current situation stating that, “The abuse of power alleged against Congresswoman Richardson is more than disheartening, it’s disgraceful. It’s not difficult to know when one is over the line and in this case there is little question Richardson crossed it and just kept running.”