Richardson’s Home Generating Income

Congresswoman's Controversial Sacramento Property Is Being Rented Out

Posted July 9, 2010 at 5:43pm

Rep. Laura Richardson is renting out the California home that drew months of scrutiny from both Congressional and federal investigators, according to her annual financial disclosure report.

The California Democrat reported earning $1,000 to $2,500 in rent from the Sacramento property in 2009, which until recently had been the subject of multiple probes after it was foreclosed on, sold and then returned to the House lawmaker in mid-2008. The House ethics committee cleared Richardson of wrongdoing in its inquiry earlier this month.

In an interview Friday, Richardson said she began renting out the home in the last quarter of 2009. She had not previously rented the home.

According to her report, Richardson valued the home at $250,000 to $500,000 in 2009, and reported a mortgage on the property valued at $500,000 to $1 million.

Richardson had not previously listed the home, or any other properties, on her annual financial disclosure forms. She first purchased the Sacramento property in 2007, when she served in the state Assembly.

House lawmakers are only required to report properties that are held for investment or income on their annual reports, and they may exclude multiple residences, including primary or vacation homes, so long as the dwellings do not produce income.

Richardson also revealed a second rental property on her most recent financial disclosure, which covers calendar year 2009. The lawmaker said the property is part of her late father’s estate.

“We’re still going through the legal ramifications, and the estate is still open,” Richardson said.

Richardson added that neither she nor her sister have “final ownership” of the property, but she listed the real estate out of an abundance of caution, given the recent investigation of her other properties.

“I’d rather err on being safe than sorry,” Richardson said.

That property in Los Angeles is valued at $250,000 to $500,000 and earned rental income of $1,000 to $2,500 last year. Richardson reported a mortgage on the property valued at $250,000 to $500,000.

Public records maintained by the Los Angeles County Assessor’s Office indicate that annual 2009-2010 property taxes have not been paid on the multifamily structure as of June 30. Those records show an outstanding tax bill of more than $3,600.

Richardson’s latest financial disclosure did not include two other properties, a San Pedro, Calif., home and a Long Beach, Calif., home, that investigators had also examined in connection to the mortgage on her Sacramento property.

According to a report issued earlier this month by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, also known as the ethics panel, mortgage broker Charles Thomas falsified rental agreements for both properties and included the bogus rental income in Richardson’s mortgage application for the Sacramento home.

The ethics committee referred information on Thomas to the Justice Department. Documents released by the ethics panel indicate the Justice Department determined in March 2010 that it would not prosecute Richardson in connection with the mortgage application.