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Ethics committee finds Democrat 'violated' the law, fined for misconduct


The House Ethics Committee has unanimously concluded that House member, California Democrat Laura Richardson, was found to have "violated" the law and was fined $10,000 for misconduct.

Richardson, who is seeking another term in November, was accused of pressuring staffers to work for her campaign. The committee said it had "substantial reason to believe that Representative Laura Richardson violated the Purpose Law...." This will trigger a floor vote to sanction her. 

As part of an agreement with the committee, Richardson admitted to all seven counts of allegations against her.

The Ethics Committee established an investigative subcommittee in November of last year to investigate her use of official staff for campaign purposes, which is against House rules. Staffers in many offices leave the congressional office to work for campaigns, but working for both is not permitted.

The committee said in a statement that she was "improperly using House resources for campaign, personal, and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work."

The committee also found she obstructed the investigation by the Ethics Committee through "the alteration or destruction of evidence, the deliberate failure to produce documents responsive to requests for information and a subpoena, and attempting to influence the testimony of witnesses."

The fine must be paid no later than Dec. 1, 2012. The committee also strongly discouraged Richardson from permitting any of her official staff to perform work on her campaign -- either on a paid or volunteer basis.