LAURA RICHARDSON REPRIMANDED, FINED $10,000 BY HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEEBy Greater Long Beach
Long Beach Congresswoman Laura Richardson has been reprimanded by the House of Representatives and fined $10,000 after congressional investigators unanimously concluded that she violated seven laws, rules or standards of conduct relating to her improper use of House resources “for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes” and for her attempts to obstruct investigations into those improprieties.
The outcome of the investigation by the House Ethics Committee’s Investigative SubCommittee (ISC) was made public in a press release this morning from the House of Representatives.
According to the press release:
“At the completion of its investigation, the ISC unanimously concluded that there was substantial reason to believe that Representative Laura Richardson violated the Purpose Law, 31 U.S.C. § 1301; House Rule XXIII clauses 1, 2, and 8; Clause 2 of the Code of Ethics for Government Service; and other standards of conduct, by improperly using House resources for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work; and by obstructing the investigation of the Committee and the ISC through the alteration or destruction of evidence, the deliberate failure to produce documents responsive to requests for information and a subpoena, and attempting to influence the testimony of witnesses.
“As part of a resolution Representative Richardson negotiated with the ISC, Representative Richardson agreed to admit to all seven counts in the Statement of Alleged Violation, accept all other terms of the ISC’s recommendations, and waive all further procedural rights in this matter provided to her by House or Committee Rule. On July 31, 2012, the full Committee unanimously accepted the ISC’s recommendations that the Committee submit a public report to the House, and that the adoption of that report by the House serve as a reprimand of Representative Richardson for her misconduct and impose a fine in the amount of $10,000 to be paid no later than December 1, 2012. Further, the full Committee unanimously agreed to strongly discourage Representative Richardson from permitting any of her official staff to perform work on her campaign (either on a paid or volunteer basis), but to the extent any of her official staff do perform work on her campaign, that said staff be required to sign a waiver asserting that such work will be provided voluntarily and is not being compelled by Representative Richardson.
“Therefore, the Committee on Ethics has unanimously recommended that the House of Representatives adopt the report, and with it, a reprimand of Representative Richardson for the conduct described therein.”
(Read the House Ethics Committee’s full statement and complete report.)
A public official holding office cannot “compel” their staff to undertake campaign work. However, the law allows congressional staff to do so on their own time as paid volunteers, provided that such work take place outside congressional facilities without using office resources. Richardson in a statement today through her lawyer, responding to the panel’s report, said she didn’t intend to pressure her staff nor did she threaten any action against those who didn’t work on her campaign.
Richardson also said she accepted the punishment to put an end to the issue, rather than face months of fighting. This November will see her facing off against Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) to represent the re-drawn 44th Congressional District.