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Corruption Chronicles

Deadbeat Legislator Abuses Political Power

The California congresswoman, who funded her political campaigns with money borrowed from properties she let foreclose, abused her political power to get one of the houses back after a man had purchased it from the bank and begun renovating it.

Democrat Laura Richardson, who represents parts of Los Angeles County’s poorest black neighborhoods in the state House, allowed three properties to foreclose after using them to get more than $200,000 to finance her political career. Two of the houses are located in southern California—San Pedro and Long Beach—and the third in Sacramento.

The three-bedroom, one and a half-bath Sacramento home was sold to a contractor at a foreclosure auction last month for $388,000. Richardson also owed Sacramento County nearly $10,000 in property taxes. The contractor recorded the home’s deed on May 19 and he painted it, laid tile and redid the landscaping.

But Richardson wanted the house back and she obviously utilized her political clout with the lender, Washington Mutual. In what experts unrelated to this case call a very strange action, the bank filed a letter of rescission of the foreclosure sale and demanded the new buyer return the keys. The outraged buyer insists on keeping the home and says he will file a lawsuit against Richardson and the lender.

The cash from all the defaulted loans went to Richardson’s Assembly and congressional campaigns. She is a former Long Beach councilwoman who went on to work for Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante before getting elected to the California Assembly in 2006 and the state House last year.

Her official government web site claims that she has had an amazing “meteoric rise” and notes that she was the first African-American woman to hold the prestigious Assembly position. No mentions of how she got the money to fund her meteoric rise, however.

It turns out that the congresswoman is a deadbeat when it comes to paying other bills as well. Since the foreclosure fiasco broke last month, several auto mechanics have revealed that the legislator stiffed them for costly work they did on her fancy German sports car.

It’s not like Richardson doesn’t make enough money. Her lucrative government salary has been six figures for years. As a member of California’s Congress, Richardson’s annual salary is $169,300 and as a member of the Assembly she made $116,000 a year plus expenses to live at the state capital in Sacramento.


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