Laura Richardson

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Laura Richardson
Laura Richardson, official portrait, 111th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 37th district
In office
August 21, 2007 – January 3, 2013
Preceded by Juanita Millender-McDonald
Succeeded by Karen Bass
Member of the California State Assembly
from the 55th district
In office
2006–2007
Preceded by Jenny Oropeza
Succeeded by Warren Furutani
Member of the Long Beach City Council
In office
2000–2006
Preceded by Jenny Oropeza
Succeeded by Dee Andrews
Personal details
Born (1962-04-14) April 14, 1962 (age 52)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Divorced
Residence Long Beach, California, U.S.
Alma mater University of California, Los Angeles
USC Marshall School of Business
Occupation Printing executive
Religion Methodist

Laura Richardson (born April 14, 1962) is an American politician who was the U.S. Representative for California's 37th congressional district from 2007 to 2013. She is a member of the Democratic Party. Her district was reorganized following the 2010 United States Census, but during Richardson's time in office it encompassed the inland section of Long Beach, Carson, Compton and Signal Hill, as well as parts of other municipalities.

She previously represented the 55th district in the California State Assembly for the 2007 term until she was elected to the House of Representatives for California's 37th congressional district in a special election on August 21, 2007, to fill the vacancy resulting from the death of Juanita Millender-McDonald. She was reelected to represent that district in 2008 and 2010. Following the decennial reorganization of Congressional districts in 2012, the 37th Congressional District was moved to another part of the state and the newly created 44th Congressional District encompassed a slim majority of her previous district, prompting her to move her permanent residence into the new district and run against fellow incumbent Democrat Rep. Janice Hahn in the 2012 Congressional elections cycle. On November 6, 2012, she was defeated in her bid for re-election by Representative Hahn by a landslide 20 percentage points.[1]

Background[edit]

Richardson was raised by a single mother after her parents divorced when she was two. Her father belonged to the Teamsters labor union.[2] Her father was black and her mother was white. Richardson has said that racism against their mixed-race family was "what got me since the age of about six of wanting to be a public servant."[3]

Richardson was previously married to Long Beach Police Chief Anthony Batts. During the marriage, she took the name Laura Richardson-Batts.

Richardson graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1984. In 1987, she joined Xerox Corporation where she worked for 14 years. In 1996, Richardson received her MBA from the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business. She often credits her studies in China at Hong Kong, Beijing, and Shanghai as significantly expanding her educational experience.

Early political career[edit]

Richardson served on the Long Beach City Council from 2000 to 2006. In 2004, Richardson won a second term outright on the first ballot. As a councilwoman, she made statements that her priorities included neighborhood improvement, public safety, attracting jobs and businesses to the cities’ central corridors, job training programs for adults, after-school programs for youth and expanding senior programs.

Richardson established the Sixth District Master Plan, a strategic guideline for development in the area. Other significant accomplishments during her council tenure include securing the first funding for alley maintenance by the city of Long Beach, initiating the planning process for a Senior Transportation Program in the Central Area of Long Beach.

While serving on the city council, Richardson joined the staff of Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante and served as his Southern California director for five years.

California Assembly[edit]

Richardson served as the assistant speaker pro tempore in the Assembly. Richardson was the first African-American and South Bay representative to achieve this position. Additionally, Richardson was appointed to serve on the Budget, Human Services, Utilities & Commerce, Government Organization, and Joint Legislative Budget committees. She was chair of the Select Committee on Proposition 209-Equal Opportunity.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucuses[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Iraq War

In 2003, Richardson said she believed weapons inspections in Iraq should have continued, and that she did not favor an invasion. She was asked by anti-war groups to support a Long Beach City Council resolution declaring the city's opposition to the Iraq War. She did not support this resolution, but cosponsored a resolution declaring support for local members of the National Guard. Once hostilities began, she stated that it was important to support the troops. She argued that once Saddam Hussein was caught and executed, American troops should have come home. She supports a withdrawal plan beginning in six months, according to her mailers, which often contain pictures of former president George W. Bush with a slash mark through his image, indicating her opposition to Bush's policies. She pledged to oppose any new spending for war in Iraq.

Same-sex marriage

She co-wrote AB 43, the bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in California. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 43 in 2007.

Prisons

Richardson supported AB 900 to create 40,000 more prison beds in California at the cost of $7.4 billion.

Environment

Richardson has faced some harsh scrutiny for not co-sponsoring Rep. Henry Waxman's global warming legislation. As a result, Greenpeace has mounted a public awareness campaign about her position.[4]

Immigration

Richardson does not support building a border fence. She does support some path to citizenship for certain illegal immigrants.

Laura Richardson (center) with fellow congresswomen Stephanie Tubbs Jones of Ohio (left) and Yvette Clarke of New York (right).
2008 presidential race

Laura Richardson endorsed Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, although her district voted for 54.2% to 43.5% in favor of Barack Obama.[5]

FISA Amendments Act

Richardson voted in favor of a controversial update to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act on June 20, 2008. As part of the bill, telecommunications companies that have allegedly acted illegally in allowing the Bush Administration to spy on customers will be protected from prosecution. The administration's surveillance of U.S. citizens and residents is part of the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.

Political campaigns[edit]

Richardson defeated State Senator Jenny Oropeza and 9 other Democrats in the June 26 primary election to win her party's nomination. On August 21, Richardson won more than 65% of the vote in a four-way race against the nominees of the Republican Party, Green Party, and Libertarian Party.

Redistricting for the 2012 elections all but eliminated the previous 37th district by splitting it in half and using those sections in the creation of two new districts. A slim majority of the district went into the creation of the new 44th district, which was home to fellow Democrat Janice Hahn, incumbent in California's 36th district. Though Richardson resided in the newly created California's 47th congressional district, she moved her residence into the 44th district because the demographics were more favorable to her winning there. The California Democratic Party endorsed Hahn for the seat.[6] On November 6, 2012, Hahn easily beat Richardson by 20 percentage points.[1]

Controversies[edit]

Richardson was accused of receiving preferential treatment by a bank when it rescinded an erroneous foreclosure of her house, but was cleared of wrongdoing by the House Ethics Committee,[7] in accordance with the recommendations of the Office of Congressional Ethics .[8] Upon the death of Juanita Millender-McDonald, her predecessor in the 37th Congressional District, Richardson seems to have put all of her funds into winning the resulting special election, and as a result stopped paying her mortgages. Following the special election, she made agreements with Washington Mutual to catch up payments on her 3 properties, but the bank violated this agreement with regard to the Sacramento property when it foreclosed on the house. The bank then rescinded the foreclosure, causing the controversy.

After her election to the California Assembly, Richardson purchased a home in Sacramento with no money down[9] and a subprime mortgage. According to county records, Richardson received a default notice and Notice of Trustee's Sale in late 2007. In December 2007, Richardson was behind in payments by more than $18,000.[10] According to the couple that sold the home to Richardson, Richardson was not maintaining the home. Sharon Helmar has stated: "The neighbors are extremely unhappy with her. She didn't mow the lawn or take out the garbage while she was there. We lived there for a long time, 30 years, and we had to hide our heads whenever we came back to the neighborhood."[11]

The real estate broker who bought Richardson's Sacramento house at the foreclosure sale accused her of receiving preferential treatment because her lender had issued a notice to rescind the sale. James York, owner of Red Rock Mortgage, said he would file a lawsuit against Richardson and her lender, Washington Mutual, but settled out of court with the terms not disclosed. Richardson had not been making payments on the property for nearly a year, and had also gone into default on her two other houses in Long Beach and San Pedro. Richardson, D-Long Beach, has said that the auction should never have been held, because she had worked out a loan modification agreement with her lender beforehand and had begun making payments.[12]

The House Ethics Committee, following the recommendations of the Ethics Office, found no wrongdoing other than by Richardson's Mortgage Broker, who was referred to the Justice Department for mortgage fraud, which was widespread at the time the mortgage was made. Mistaken foreclosures despite paid-up recovery agreements, such as the one that happened to Richardson, were also becoming rampant during this period.[13][14][15]

Richardson also initially did not disclose a loan from a strip club owner when on the City Council, public records show.[16]

Richardson was speaker of the House pro tempore during the November 29, 2010 lame-duck session of Congress. She initially refused to recognize, then relented to allow committee ranking member Steve Buyer to talk despite the failure of the committee chairman to appear. She was seen discussing with the House parliamentarian and aides how to handle the failure of the committee chairman to appear to present his bill under rules and procedures that minorities in both parties have often denounced when out of power in the House, as Boyer did when recognized in this instance.[17]

On November 3, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that Richardson would face an ethics inquiry related to possible illegal use of staffers.

On November 4, 2011, Richardson claimed that the House Ethics Committee, composed of five members from the Democratic Party and five members from Republician Party, singled her out for investigation because she is African-American. The Ethics Committee leaders did announce that the vote to establish a four-member investigative subcommittee was unanimous.[18]

In 2011, Richardson voted for the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 as part of a controversial provision that allows the government and the military to indefinitely detain American citizens and others without trial.[19]

In 2012, Richardson introduced a controversial bill that calls on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prepare for mass fatality planning and for other purposes.[20]

Decisions of House committee and full House[edit]

On August 1, 2012, the House Ethics Committee issued its report about accusations of improper use of staff. It found that Richardson had broken federal law, violated House rules and obstructed the Committee's own investigation. She was found guilty on seven counts of violating House rules by improperly pressuring her staff to campaign for her, destroying evidence and tampering with witness testimony. Richardson was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 within four months and promised to require staffers who work on her campaign to sign a waiver stating that they haven’t been pressured to do so.[21] The committee also called on the full House to reprimand Richardson.[22] The following day, the full House duly voted to accept the Committee report and reprimand Richardson.[23]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "PolitiCal". Los Angeles Times. November 7, 2012. 
  2. ^ Mitchell, John L. "Racial issues take a back seat in 37th, 'Multiracial support has Laura Richardson poised to represent a largely Latino district. Her take: `We are a new America, very diverse.'" Los Angeles Times. July 3, 2007. Accessed July 16, 2007.
  3. ^ Kapochunas, Rachel. "Early Brush With Racism Set Rep.-Elect Richardson on Political Path". Retrieved 2007-08-24. 
  4. ^ Puente, Kelly. "Lukewarm response to Safe Climate Act", Long Beach Post-Telegram, December 8, 2007.
  5. ^ demcd.xls
  6. ^ Trygstad, Kyle (2012-02-13). "California Democratic Party Endorses Janice Hahn over Laura Richardson". Roll Call (Washington, DC). Retrieved 2012-02-14. 
  7. ^ Jonathan, Allan (July 2, 2010). "Report: Ethics panel clears Richardson". Politico.com, Capitol News Company LLC. Retrieved 2010-11-19. 
  8. ^ Office of Congressional Ethics. http://oce.house.gov/disclosures/Review_No_09-4126_Referral_to_SOOC.pdf.  Missing or empty |title= (help) Report and Findings Transmitted to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct on August 6, 2009
  9. ^ Viles, Peter (May 21, 2008). "Report: California Congresswoman walked away from $578K mortgage". L.A. Land (Los Angeles Times). Retrieved 2008-05-21. [dead link] Richardson borrowed the $15,000 for the closing costs from the seller.
  10. ^ Capitol Weekly: The Newspaper of California State Government and Politics
  11. ^ York, Anthony (May 20, 2008). "Foreclosure tale shows that nobody is immune from crisis". Capitol Weekly (Capitol Weekly Group). Retrieved 2008-05-22. 
  12. ^ Maddaus, Gene (June 9, 2008). "WaMu giving Richardson a break?". Daily Breeze (Los Angeles Newspaper group). Retrieved 2008-06-09. 
  13. ^ Phillips, Carlin (Feb 1, 2010). "Wrongful Bank Foreclosure: Bank Forecloses Despite Paid-Up Loan Modification Agreement". Blog Category: Wrongful Foreclosure (Phillips & Garcia P.C.). Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  14. ^ Cutts, John (May 16, 2010). "Some Foreclosed Homes for Sale Might Be Due to Bank Errors". Real Estate Pro Articles. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  15. ^ Daysog, Rick (July 1, 2011). "Wrongful home foreclosures rare - but devastating". Sacramento Bee. Retrieved 2011-06-30. 
  16. ^ Canalis, John (June 14, 2008). "Representative late revealing two loans for homes". Press Telegram. Retrieved 2008-07-09. 
  17. ^ Malcolm, Andrew (November 30, 2010). "'This is why the American people have thrown you out of power:' Rep. Steve Buyer". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2010-11-30. 
  18. ^ Margasak, Larry (November 4, 2011). "Ethics committee to investigate Rep. Richardson". Associated Press (The Associated Press). 
  19. ^ http://www.ibtimes.com/ndaa-bill-how-did-your-congress-member-vote-384362
  20. ^ http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/112/hr6566/text
  21. ^ Yager, Jordy. "Ethics Committee finds Rep. Laura Richardson guilty on seven counts". THe Hill. Retrieved 1 August 2012. 
  22. ^ Pershing, Ben (August 1, 2012). "Ethics panel says Rep. Laura Richardson broke federal law, obstructed probe". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 1, 2012. [1]
  23. ^ John H. Cushman, Jr. "House Reprimands Richardson". New York Times, August 2, 2012. Accessed on 8/7/12 at: http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/08/02/house-reprimands-richardson/

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Juanita Millender-McDonald
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 37th congressional district

2007–2013
Succeeded by
Karen Bass