H.R. 150: On Thursday, August 2, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider a resolution relating to Representative Laura Richardson as a privileged resolution.

H.R. 150

On Thursday, August 2, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider a resolution relating to Representative Laura Richardson as a privileged resolution.

Sponsor
Sen. Bernard Sanders

Date
August 2, 2012 (112th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Sarah Makin

Floor Situation

On Thursday, August 2, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider a resolution relating to Representative Laura Richardson as a privileged resolution.

Bill Summary

The resolution would provide for House adoption of the report by the Ethics Committee detailing its investigation of Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) regarding her prior actions under which her federal staff was compelled to perform campaign work in violation of federal law and House rules.

House adoption of the Ethics Committee's report would serve as a public reprimand by the House Rep.  Richardson for her misconduct.

Background

On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the House Ethics Committee issued a report finding Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) guilty of improperly pressuring her official staff to campaign for her, and tampering with evidence and witness testimony. 

Article I, Section 5, of the Constitution provides the House with “authority to punish its members for disorderly behavior” and requires a two-thirds vote to expel a member. The ethics committee has the option to take disciplinary action on its own initiative, or to recommend that the full House do so. The committee may recommend a range of sanctions, including a reprimand for “serious violations,” censure for “more serious violations” and expulsion for the "most serious violations.”

In July 2010, the House Ethics Committee received complaints from staffers of Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) in both the Washington, D.C., and Long Beach, Calif., offices that the congresswoman was requiring her federal staff to perform campaign work in violation of federal law and House rules.

The Ethics Committee then began an investigation, and an investigative subpanel concluded that there was substantial reason to believe that Richardson violated the Purpose Law, 31 U.S.C. § 1301; House Rule XXIII clauses 1, 2 and 8; Clause 2 of the Code of Ethics for Government Service; and other standards of conduct, by improperly using House resources for campaign, personal and nonofficial purposes; by requiring or compelling her official staff to perform campaign work; and by obstructing the investigation of the 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.

Richardson subsequently entered into a negotiated settlement with the investigative subpanel under which she agreed to admit to all seven counts against her, to pay a $10,000 fine, and to waive all further procedural rights to protest or appeal the matter. The investigative subpanel also strongly discouraged her from allowing any of her official staff to volunteer on her 2012 campaign, and she agreed that to the extent any of her staff wish to volunteer they must sign a written statement acknowledging that their work is voluntary and is not compelled by the congresswoman.

On July 31, the full Ethics Committee unanimously accepted the recommendations of the investigative subcommittee that the committee submit a public report to the House, and impose a $10,000 fine to be paid no later than Dec. 1, 2012.

House adoption of the Ethics Committee's report would serve as a public reprimand by the House of Rep. Richardson for her misconduct.

Cost

A CBO estimate was not available as of press time.