Despite previous claims to the contrary, Rep. Laura Richardson (D-California) has agreed to accept seven counts of ethics violations brought against her that accuse the California lawmaker of improperly using her congressional staff to perform personal, re-election campaign and other nonofficial duties. The bipartisan House Ethics Committee announced Aug. 1 that it had unanimously voted to formally reprimand Richardson and levied a $10,000 fine that must be paid by Dec. 1. The full House is expected on Thursday to vote to approve the reprimand.
The news could harm Richardson's re-election prospects in November. She is in a tight race with fellow Democrat Rep. Janice Hahn in a newly drawn district that some experts have predicted she will lose in November, and the reprimand could be the final blow to her congressional career.
In announcing its findings, the ethics panel issued a scathing report that accused Richardson of treating the investigation with "utter disdain" and attempting to obstruct it by altering or destroying evidence and failing to honor some document requests. At one point, the committee said, Richardson complained that a session during which she was being questioned was taking too long because she wanted to get to a congressional softball game.
The committee also has pointed out the "disturbing irony" of Richardson's allegations that its investigators had "intimidated and frightened her employees, given the horrendous picture so many of her own current and former staff described of their time in her employment, and her own attempts to intimidate them on a regular basis." Last March, a veteran and former aide said that she'd “rather be at war in Afghanistan” than complete her fellowship in the California lawmaker’s office.
According to a statement her attorney submitted to the committee, Richardson has agreed to accept the charges because continuing to fight "would consume many more months and much more of her time and attention."
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(Photo: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)