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Ethics Committee Talked to Rep. Richardson’s Staff

The House ethics committee has launched a second inquiry into Rep. Laura Richardson, a Los Angeles community newspaper reported, this time focusing on whether the California Democrat forced her staff to volunteer for her campaign.

Richardson confirmed in a statement to Roll Call issued by her office Friday that “The House Ethics Committee has interviewed staff but has not launched an investigation of the staff of the 37th Congressional Office, the Office of the 37th Congressional District or the Member.”

According to a Wednesday report in the Los Angeles Wave, several staffers in Richardson’s Congressional office have been contacted by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

The newspaper reported that staff had complained they were required to work after hours and on weekends volunteering for her campaign, a charge Richardson denied. The newspaper quoted the Congresswoman as saying “No, I did not force them to volunteer ... I am an extremely hard worker and I expect the people I work with to work hard, too. Not everybody wants to work hard.”

In the Friday statement, Richardson said, “We have no knowledge of [the newspaper’s] reference to ‘several complaints filed by District and Washington, D.C. staff,’” and added, “There are no circulated criticisms of management style of the staff of the 37th Congressional District or the Member.”

Richardson’s statement indicated that the ethics committee may be responding to an April column in the Wave alleging that the Congresswoman was violating the Hatch Act by having Congressional staff work on her campaign. Richardson had requested the newspaper correct that story, noting that Congressional staff are allowed to work on campaigns on their own time, as long as they do not use Congressional resources.

In July, the ethics committee completed a seven-month investigation of Richardson’s personal finances, concluding she had not violated House rules in an unusual mortgage transaction that allowed her to repurchase her home after it was foreclosed upon. But the committee did conclude that Richardson’s mortgage broker had forged documents in the transaction without her knowledge.

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