As the June primary for the newly created 44th Congressional District approached, Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) was already fighting for her political life. She was under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly pressuring members of her legislative staff to work on her campaign on government time and against their will. That troubling charge — and the resources she was forced to expend rebutting it — were the chief reasons this page declined to endorse her.
When the primary was over and Richardson had earned a spot in the runoff, the committee reported that she had indeed violated congressional rules, and she accepted a rare reprimand and a $10,000 fine. Not only did she force staff members to do campaign work, the report said, but she verbally abused and intimidated them. She also obstructed the investigation and showed such disdain for the process that at one point she demanded that a meeting with investigators be cut short so she could attend a congressional softball game.
Needless to say, we're sticking with our decision not to endorse her.
Residents of the 44th District deserve better. That's why The Times endorses Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro). Both Hahn and Richardson are Democrats, thrown together in a general election thanks to the state's new top-two system, which doesn't consider party affiliation in primaries.
Unlike her rival, Hahn is unencumbered by allegations of wrongdoing. She is a familiar face to voters in the new district, having represented parts of it while serving three terms on the L.A. City Council; she is also the daughter of a former county supervisor and the sister of a former mayor of Los Angeles. Though still a freshman in Congress, she has sought to work across the aisle. She and a Texas Republican, for example, helped form the House Port Opportunity, Renewal, Trade and Security Caucus to secure funding for ports and improve security.
During her years on the City Council, Hahn led efforts to modernize and improve Los Angeles International Airport, a project that promised to bring much-needed jobs to the area. She often — perhaps too often — voted in lock-step with organized labor, and supported measures that offered style over substance, including the City Council's ban on most city travel to Arizona after the passage of that state's controversial immigration law.
We haven't always agreed with Hahn, but no one can deny her passion or her commitment to her constituents and to the issues she champions. She is the best candidate for the job.