The House and Senate Ethics Committees are notorious for their lack of serious enforcement of ethics rules — more often serving to deflect criticism of members. For that reason, when one of the committees actually takes action it is a notable moment. In the case of Rep. Laura Richardson, the Committee found an array of seven disturbing violations including improperly pressuring her official staff to campaign for her, destroying evidence and tampering with witness testimony. In addition, the Committee found that Richardson showed “utter disdain” for the committee and its investigation. Yet, despite this shocking list of alleged violations including destruction of evidence and witness tampering, the Committee is only seeking a reprimand and $10,000 fine.
Staffers for Richardson supplied damning evidence that included her alleged “attempts to intimidate them on a regular basis.” Richardson claimed the investigation was motivated by racism and that she was singled out when other members engage regularly in such conduct.
Richardson was previously investigated but cleared in allegations of wrongdoing over the sale of her foreclosed home. She has defaulted on three homes.
The panel refused a settlement offer from Richardson due to her lack of remorse and added “Richardson’s views weave an elaborate fabrication out of threads of decontextualized evidence and outright prevarication, in an absurd attempt to rebut the majority of the tremendous evidence against her.”
There still seems a disconnect between the charges and the penalty. Destruction of evidence and tampering with witnesses is a crime in the federal system, but such acts in Congress appear to be treated as matters for reprimand rather than expulsion. Richardson represents Long Beach, Carson, Compton and Signal Hill as part of the 37th District.
Source: The Hill