US & World

Laura Richardson again investigated by Ethics Committee; new ethics chief complains about Zoe Lofgren

Congresswoman Laura Richardson.
Congresswoman Laura Richardson.
Kitty Felde/KPCC

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The Republican chair of the US House Ethics Committee has accused his Democratic predecessor of ordering leaves for a pair of committee investigators “without cause.” Those lawyers were investigating possible ethics violations by Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters. A former staffer is also raising ethics concerns about Democratic Congresswoman Laura Richardson.

The charges by House Ethics Committee Chairman Jo Bonner of Alabama came to light in a letter to the two committee staffers. Someone leaked that letter to the Washington Post.

The lawyers were suspended just before LA Congresswoman Maxine Waters was to face ethics charges that she’d used her political influence to help a bank in which her husband owned stock. In the letter, Bonner said then-committee chairwoman Zoe Lofgren decided to put the attorneys on leave, even though they'd “acted appropriately and consistent with the highest ethical standards.”

The Ethics Committee conducts its official business behind closed doors. Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of San Jose responded to Bonner this way: "I will say that his statements probably violate the committee rules and I’m contemplating whether I should tell the truth about what he did and what the committee did."

The Waters case is on hold.

In another matter, a former congressional staffer tells the Long Beach Press Telegram that the Ethics Committee is again investigating Congresswoman Laura Richardson – this time for allegedly using employees on government time to work on her political campaign. Richardson’s office confirms that ethics committee personnel have conducted interviews, but denies that there’s any investigation. Ray Zaccaro, the Congresswoman's communications director, says "no further action has been taken" on the matter.

Last summer, the committee cleared Richardson of accusations that she got special treatment from her bank to avoid foreclosure on a home.