Birthdate: April 14, 1962
Birth Place: Gardena, CA, United States
Residence: Los Angeles, CA
First Elected: 2007
Laura Richardson was born in Gardena, Calif., and now lives in Long Beach. She earned a bachelor's degree from the University of California-Los Angeles and a master's in business administration from the University of Southern California.
Richardson was a marketing representative for Xerox Corp. from 1987 to 2001, when her career turned to politics.
She served on the Long Beach City Council from 2000 to 2006, when she won election to the California Assembly. She served nine months in the Legislature and was elected to the U.S. House in 2007.
Richardson is divorced.
Laura Richardson had a whirlwind political ascent, moving within one year from the Long Beach City Council to the California Assembly to Congress.
She won a special election for California's 37th District, in September 2007 to finish the term of the late Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, who died of cancer the previous April.
Richardson arrived in Congress promising to oppose the war in Iraq and focus on crime, poverty and inadequate health care at home. Among her first legislative acts was to support a House resolution criminalizing the hanging of nooses.
Richardson is a proponent of immigration reform. She supports paths to citizenship for certain illegal immigrants. In 2012 she spoke in favor of the DREAM Act. "The DREAM Act rewards responsible and productive behavior while at the same time invests in the future prosperity of our great Nation," she said.
For the 2012 election, Richardson moved to Los Angeles from Long Beach to run in the newly drawn Hispanic-majority 44th Congressional District. She is squaring off against Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn.
The Los Angeles Times in May 2012 endorsed Hahn, saying the ethics inquiries swirling around Richardson take away too much of her time and energy needed to fully serve the working-class communities of the district.
Richardson has had to fend off questions about her personal and political conduct. The Sacramento political journal Capitol Weekly reported in May 2008 that Richardson's Sacramento home was sold in foreclosure after she fell behind on her mortgage payments.
Richardson said in an interview with The Associated Press that the foreclosure sale happened without her knowledge and contrary to an agreement she had with her lender.
She said her finances were a mess because of personal turmoil, including a divorce, a death in the family and her jumping from one elective office to the next. She acknowledged falling behind on her mortgage payments even while lending $177,500 of her own money to finance her political career.
More revelations followed. Richardson had two other homes in her district that had fallen into default six times. The Long Beach Press-Telegram reported that Richardson left car repair bills unpaid and failed to disclose certain financial details, including a loan from a strip club owner, when she served on the Long Beach City Council.
A congressional ethics watchdog group in Washington asked the House Ethics Committee to investigate whether Richardson had received what amounted to an improper gift from her bank, Washington Mutual Inc., if her mortgage was renegotiated on unusually favorable terms. The ethics group also questioned whether Richardson had properly filled out her congressional financial disclosure forms.
The Ethics Committee in July 2010 cleared Richardson of wrongdoing in the foreclosure of her Sacramento property and also cleared her of violations regarding her financial disclosure forms.
Richardson revealed in 2011 that she was again being investigated by the House Ethics Committee on allegations that she improperly used staff for political purposes. Richardson charged she was singled out for scrutiny because she's African-American.
In 2009, Richardson made a high-profile visit to Cuba with members of the Congressional Black Caucus, and was among three members of Congress who met with Fidel Castro.
Source: Associated Press