Laura Richardson and still more ethics questions

Laura Richardson is back in the news again for unpleasantness, with a vicious resignation letter from her district scheduler suggesting pretty clearly that there’s an ethics investigation ongoing. In November, it was reported that Richardson staffers were interviewed around allegations that Richardson had improperly forced staffers to volunteer on her campaign. At the time, Richardson said “There is no ethics investigation. They just had somebody interviewing my staff.” Richardson strongly pushed back elsewhere, denying that she was again the target of an ethics inquiry, but the letter suggests there may be more going on:

I am also hurt because on more than one occasion I was asked to do a task or coordinate an eventthat was on the ethical borderline and not in my job description; things that I was never properly trained on or warned about, and later caused me to be deposed by an ethics investigator with a lawyer present.

The letter also discusses “repeated emotional abuse and constant conflict” in a “toxic and hostile work environment,” so it certainly seems like there’s something unpleasant going on here. The initial, uncorroborated report cited extraordinarily high staff turnover in Richardson’s office, and a range of concerns about management style.

As the Calitics team has chronicled in the past, Laura Richardson has a long history of ethically questionable behavior. Most notably, allegations of preferential treatment on foreclosures, allowing property to fall into dramatic disrepair, failing to disclose loans, and a particularly pricy car allowance.

Not to mention, as is often the case in safe districts, Richardson’s initial election was not exactly a shining beacon of democratic idealism. She essentially won a seat in Congress for life by garnering less than 12,000 votes and under 38% in the special election primary for the open seat, and has kept up a steady stream of headlines for ethical problems ever since. The whole combination has already sparked speculation about a potential replacement, although that seems more than a few steps down the line. It is, however, probably a good occasion to re-consider why less than 12,000 people are able to install someone in Congress effectively for life — especially given this illustration of what it can mean.

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