UPDATE 10:00pm | CityWatchLA asks Congresswoman Richardson back in ethics hot water?
UPDATE 10:00pm | Click here for KPPC Public Radio coverage.
UPDATE Tuesday 2:00pm | A former district staffer for Congresswoman Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach, who recently resigned, spoke exclusively with the Press-Telegram about her letter that accuses Richardson of ethically questionable behavior.
Click here to read the story in the Press-Telegram.
Maria Angel Macias, who formerly worked as a scheduler in Richardson's district office in Long Beach, told the PT that many of Richardson's staffers were required to "volunteer" their time to work on her most recent re-election campaign. She also said that she scheduled Richardson's campaign-related activities on the taxpayer dime.
Richardson has repeatedly denied that she is again being probed by federal investigators, but Macias said that multiple 37th Congressional District staff members, including herself, have been deposed by ethics investigators and that Richardson paid for an attorney to be present during each session.
Despite the Congressional Ethics Commission's refusal to neither confirm nor deny any potential investigations, the PT is speculating to be an "apparent ethics investigation."
Richardson's spokesman, Communications Director Ray Zaccaro, told the PT via e-mail that "no employee in this office has ever been required to perform any work on the campaign."
Richardson's spokesman, Communications Director Ray Zaccaro, told the PT via e-mail that
"no employee in this office has ever been required to perform any work on the campaign."
Zaccaro echoed Monday what Richardson said in November when asked about the validity of claims that she was the subject of another ethics probe: There have been ethics interviews, but they do not constitute an official investigation.
Macias said that Richardson often told her to call staff members outside office hours to make them work at campaign events, according to both the PT and POLITICO.com:
She would just ask me to call them and tell them to come to the campaign office. She would ask me to schedule people (staff members and drivers to accompany Richardson) for campaign fundraisers for other elected officials.
On more than one occasion I was asked to do a task or coordinate an event that was on the ethical borderline and not in my job description; things that I was never properly trained on or warned about, and later caused me to be deposed by an ethics investigator with a lawyer present.
It is illegal for congressional staff members to work on campaigns while they are on the clock as Capitol Hill aides. However, they are allowed to work on campaigns outside of regular work schedules when they aren't on the taxpayer dollar.
Zaccaro also noted that House ethics rules permit congressional schedulers to coordinate with campaign schedulers.Washington-based news website POLITICO.com broke the story on Richardson's potentially being under investigation for a second time in her three years in office after obtaining a copy of the resignation letter. The PT reported that it had obtained a copy of the letter prior to POLITICO.
Macias said the investigation appears to be centering on Deputy District Director Daysha Austin.
Leading up to last fall, when Richardson was running for re-election Nov. 2. Macias said that in the fall leading up to the Nov. 2 election, Austin would "be in the field" most days, but that everyone knew she was working at Richardson's campaign headquarters.
Macias was once ordered to determine why Richardson's new home stereo was broken upon arrival, she said And on another occasion, the congresswoman forced a staffer to drive her to Pasadena against her will, she said.
"She makes you feel like she owns you," Macias told the PT.
UPDATE Monday 1:00pm |Click here for the Press-Telegram's coverage of this story.
Monday 7:30am | POLITICO is reporting about a recent letter of resignation from a former staff member of Long Beach Congresswoman Laura Richardson. The letter blasts Richardson on a variety of fronts including a "toxic" work environment, and reference to being asked on more than one occasion to "do a task or coordinate an event that was on the ethical borderline and not in the job description.”
The letter, obtained by POLITICO, appears to indicate Richardson is under investigation again by ethics investigators despite multiple denials by the Congresswoman.
According to POLITICO:
You can read the full POLITICO story here.
A letter of resignation sent by a former staffer to Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) appears to indicate that ethics investigators are probing the Los Angeles-area Congresswoman -- a fact Richardson has denied to local reporters.
In a copy of the letter obtained by POLITICO, the congresswoman's former district scheduler, Maria Angel Macias, reveals that she was interviewed under oath by ethics investigators, alluding to possible ethics and workplace rules violations.
"The office does not comment on confidential personnel matters," Richardson spokesman Ray Zaccaro told POLITICO, who also declined to reveal the subject of the investigation, which is confidential under Congressional rules.
The letter describes a "toxic" work environment in Richardson's Long Beach office, and suggests that investigators may be probing government staffers' use for inappropriate purposes.
"[O]n more than one occasion I was asked to do a task or coordinate an event that was on the ethical borderline and not in my job description; things that I was never properly trained on or warned about, and later caused me to be deposed by an ethics investigator with a lawyer present," wrote Macias, who until last week was a part-time scheduler with Richardson's office. Macias did not respond to multiple request for comment.
"I cannot work in a toxic and hostile environment like this, which is why I resign today," concluded Macias, who is on her second stint on Richardson's staff, and also complained of a " disrespectful way of talking to staff, the lack of regard for family time or personal time off for staff, and the thankless, unappreciative attitude that staff are met with no matter how hard we work."
Richardson has had a series of damaging stories in numerous publications and has faced ethics questions in her nearly four years in Congress. She was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee involving a foreclosure on a home she owned in Sacramento but was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing.
She has been named by CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) as one of the most corrupt members of Congress.
Richardson was reelected in November 2010 with more than 68 percent of the vote.