Ethics probe sought

Times Staff Writer

A legal ethics watchdog group Wednesday called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Long Beach) for actions surrounding the foreclosure of her Sacramento home and defaults on her homes in San Pedro and Long Beach.

William Marshall, a spokesman for Richardson, called the complaint “pretty mean-spirited. It rehashes old news.” He said the House ethics counsel last week met with the congresswoman and said her ethics statement met House rules.

Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, acknowledged that the chances for an investigation were slim because members of Congress must ask for the probe, and the committee has shown little interest lately in investigating representatives.

House leaders said they would not ask for a probe.

Stacey Bernard, communications director for Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland), said it was up to the committee members to decide what course to take.

“They have the power to do it themselves and should look at any allegations in the public sphere,” Bernard said.


Mike Steel, press secretary for Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio), said, “It seems clear from news accounts that her conduct was reckless. Whether that conduct passed over the line from reckless to unethical is a matter for the Ethics Committee.”

Should the committee investigate? “That is a decision for the Ethics Committee,” he said.

Sloan’s group asked the committee to determine if House rules were violated when Washington Mutual rescinded the foreclosure of her Sacramento house after it had been sold.