Republicans are blasting California Democrat Rep. Laura Richardson and House Democrats over a damning new ethics complaint by watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) that appears to show California Democrat Rep. Laura Richardson and her staff clearly violating congressional ethics rules and potentially federal law.
CREW’s complaint includes new documents that show Richardson using official taxpayer resources for political events, including fundraisers.
“This is just another disturbing example of a major ethics violation plaguing Nancy Pelosi’s caucus. Instead of working to fix America’s broken economy, Laura Richardson is breaking ethics rules to get reelected,” said NRCC spokesman Tyler Q. Houlton.
The hit from the Republicans’ campaign committee comes as Richardson is not denying the allegations in a response.
Documents included in CREW’s complaint — which requests the FBI investigate potential violations of federal law — show in startlingly explicit email messages staffers intimately involved in political campaign activities with official taxpayer resources.
In one instance, Richardson’s chief of staff, Shirley Cooks, told all of Richardson’s aides in an email from her official House account, “All staff are required to attend” a fundraiser held Sept. 29, 2010, adding, “Bring spouses and tell interns they have to be there as well. Thanks.”
Another staffer, Daysha Austin, then a district scheduler, told staffers, “The Congresswoman is asking all staff that has one to wear their staff shirt to tomorrow’s event so we can be visible and easily identified.”
The “staff shirt,” pictured in CREW’s complaint, features a logo that says “California’s 37th Congressional District,” the district that Richardson represents.
The demands on staff to attend a fundraiser and use of official email accounts and resources to coordinate political activities clearly violate congressional ethics rules that taxpayer dollars “may not pay for campaign expenses.”
A strict wall separates official congressional office work from political campaigning; lawmakers and their staff may not even make one phone call for campaign purposes from a congressional office phone, for instance.
While it’s not uncommon for lawmakers to stretch these rules to a degree, flagrant rule breaking in written documents is highly unusual.