Updated: Rep. Richardson rejects charges she retaliated against her staff

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Updated: The website Politico is reporting that Rep. Laura Richardson is forcefully pushing back against new allegations that she retaliated against staff members who cooperated with the House Ethics Committee's investigation of her:

But Richardson, through her lawyer, said those charges are flatly false — and she went on offense against the committee for taking the unusual step of disseminating its letters to her to all current members of her staff.

[S]ince the adoption of the House Ethics Committee report on Aug. 2, the Congresswoman has abided strictly by the terms of the agreement with the Committee, and has not used any official staff or resources for political OR personal purposes,” Richardson’s counsel, Joe Sandler, wrote in an email to POLITICO. “No requests have been made by her to any staff member to engage in any campaign or political activity.”

Previously: Democratic Congresswoman Laura Richardson of Long Beach is being accused of retaliating against members of her staff who cooperated with the House Ethics Committee’s investigation that led to her recent reprimand.

Last month, the House of Representatives voted unanimously to reprimand Congresswoman Richardson for ethics violations that included pressuring her staff to do political campaign work and run personal errands for her. She agreed to pay a $10,000 fine.

Now, a pair of staffers have reportedly complained to the House Ethics Committee that Richardson is retaliating for their role in the investigation. Letters have been leaked to the web site Politico, which earlier reported on the atmosphere in Richardson’s office — quoting one staffer who said she’d “rather be at war in Afghanistan.”

In their Aug. 15 letter to Richardson, the Ethics Committee warns that the new allegations could trigger a continued probe and possible Department of Justice investigation.

The House Ethics Committee would neither confirm nor deny the allegations. Richardson’s office had no comment.

Richardson is the clear underdog in a re-election campaign that pits her against fellow Democratic Congresswoman Janice Hahn. Redistricting forced the two incumbents into the same Congressional district. They faced off in the primary, which Hahn won by 60-to-40 percent. Because of California's new election rules, they are both on the November general election ballot.

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