Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Jun 28, 2011

CREW Requests FBI Investigation into Rep. Laura Richardson

Laura RichardsonWashington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to begin a criminal investigation into Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA).  Internal office emails obtained by CREW, as well as numerous press reports, show Rep. Richardson routinely forced her congressional staff to work on her campaign  or risk losing their jobs.  She also required staff to perform personal errands. 

CREW’s complaint alleges Rep. Richardson intimidated staff into making political contributions, solicited contributions on federal property, improperly used appropriated funds, and made false statements to Congress.

“Rep. Richardson presented staffers with an odious choice: work on her campaign, or lose their jobs,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “Astonishingly, in just three short terms, Rep. Richardson has been the subject of at least two ethics investigations.  Now a criminal investigation should be added to the list.  Although there is some competition for the title, Rep. Richardson may well be the most ethically challenged member of Congress.”

Internal emails regarding a fundraising event dubbed “Democratic Idol” show Richardson Chief of Staff Shirley Cooks told employees they were required to attend the event, wearing staff shirts embroidered with the phrase “37th Congressional District.”  In an email from her official House account, Ms. Cooks stated that spouses and interns were expected to attend as well.     

In addition to having Capitol Hill staff work on her campaign, the congresswoman also routinely required staffers to perform personal errands for her, such as picking up her dry cleaning, a violation of the law requiring government funds to be used only for official purposes. Relatedly, by certifying that staffers were paid only for work done for official purposes when she submitted payroll forms, Rep. Richardson appears to have made false statements to Congress.

“Rep. Richardson didn’t just violate House rules, she likely committed crimes,” said Ms. Sloan.  “While the House Ethics Committee is already investigating – for all the good that ever does – the FBI should step in and conduct its own inquiry.  The Department of Justice has a responsibility to ensure members of Congress who violate the law are held accountable.”

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