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Updated: 11:27 a.m.
In the early months of Rep. Laura Richardson’s 2010 re-election bid, the California Democrat’s chief of staff traveled to Los Angeles, where she informed district staffers of the extent to which they would be expected to assist with their boss’s campaign.
“If you know anything about Richardson, you probably will not have a job, you know, if you don’t volunteer,” one former staffer would later recall Chief of Staff Shirley Cooks saying at the meeting.
“I don’t know if she meant to say ... we’ll all be out of work or if she was saying you will be gotten rid of. ... I took it to mean the latter ... [and] I took it to be coming not from Shirley,” another staffer told House Ethics Committee investigators.
A schedule of compulsory campaign work was implemented soon after the meeting; it required Richardson’s Congressional staffers to arrive at the campaign’s office in Long Beach, Calif., within 10 minutes of ending their official workday. For the next three hours, they were expected to make calls and perform other campaign tasks until their double shifts ended at 9 p.m.
At one point, Richardson even instructed Ken Miller, her district communications director, to “infiltrate” the campaign of her Republican opponent, Star Parker, by using a fictitious name.
“She told me directly herself that she wanted me to do that. ... My directive was to go and work for [Ms. Parker] as a volunteer and report directly back to the Congresswoman what my findings were,” Miller later told ethics investigators.
The meeting described in the opening pages of the report issued by an investigative panel convened by the House Ethics Committee to probe Richardson was the first act in a drama of dysfunction that unfolded over the next two years.
The House on Thursday voted to adopt, as a public reprimand, the committee’s finding that Richardson had likely violated both House rules and federal law.
The committee’s unflinching report, which was accompanied by the release of its investigatory findings, portrays a lawmaker who unapologetically misused official resources and abused Congressional staffers for personal gain.