Rep. Laura Richardson suggested Thursday that the House Ethics Committee is targeting non-white members of Congress following a decision by the committee to open an investigation into the California Democrat's conduct.
The committee voted unanimously Thursday to create an investigative subcommittee to probe complaints that Richardson threatened to dismiss members of her congressional staff if they did not work on her 2010 re-election campaign, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Times also reported that the subcommittee, expected to announce its plans Friday, will examine whether Richardson's campaign used congressional resources for political purposes.
Richardson said in a statement that the ethics panel has "unjustly" targeted her and other members for using House resources while the committee remains quiet on lawmakers who sleep in their congressional offices.
And Richardson, who is black, accused the committee of discrimination.
"I also intend to explore the issue of whether the Ethics Committee has engaged in discriminatory conduct in pursuing two investigations against me while simultaneously failing to apply the same standards to or take the same actions against other Members--of whom the overwhelming majority are white males," Richardson said in a statement.
The Ethics Committee--which has an equal number of Republicans and Democrats, but operates under GOP leadership as Republicans have the majority in the House--recently reopened an investigation from 2009 into Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) in connection to the appointment of a successor to President Obama's vacant Senate seat. The panel also continues to investigate Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Ca.), whom a subcommittee charged in August 2010 with three ethics violations related to her advocacy for a bank connected to her husband. Richardson, Waters and Jackson are all members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
The committee previously investigated the sale of Richardson's home. That case was dismissed in July 2010.
Richardson's ethics woes provide potential fodder for her 2012 competitors, including freshman Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn and state Assemblyman Isadore Hall. Redistricting in California has prompted the unusual incumbent vs. incumbent matchup between Hahn and Richardson.
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