Inside Politics: Ethics panel says reprimand, fine Democratic lawmaker

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Rep. Laura Richardson, California Democrat, improperly compelled her congressional staff to do campaign work and should be reprimanded and fined for violating standards of conduct, the House Ethics Committee announced Wednesday.

The committee said she admitted to all seven counts of violations and agreed to the proposed punishment, which awaits House action.

The committee unanimously adopted the report of its investigative panel, in which investigators detailed the third-term lawmaker’s coercion, attempts to alter evidence and efforts to influence the testimony of staff members who would be witnesses.

Adoption of the report by the House would constitute a reprimand. The House also was asked by the committee to impose a $10,000 fine to be paid by Dec. 1.

The committee said it discouraged Ms. Richardson from permitting any staff members to work in her campaign. She’s in a tough re-election race against fellow Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn. Although Ms. Hahn beat Ms. Richardson by a 60-39 margin in the primary, the state allows the top two finishers to run against each other in the general election regardless of party affiliation.

The ethics charges have been a drag on Ms. Richardson’s fundraising as her campaign was greatly outspent in the primary. Ms. Hahn raised and spent more than $2.1 million and won the endorsement of the California Democratic Party. Ms. Richardson raised about $483,000 and spent about $403,000, according to the latest Federal Election Commission report covering through June 30.

HOUSE

Leaders welcome Chinese dissident to Capitol

Congressional leaders have united in welcoming dissident Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng, whose case sparked a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing this spring.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, led Mr. Chen, who is blind, by the arm. Mr. Boehner told a news conference Wednesday the U.S. has the responsibility to hold China accountable on human rights.

Mr. Boehner was flanked by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who commended his remarks.

Mr. Chen moved to New York in May after a dramatic escape from house arrest in his home province to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Mr. Chen called for Beijing to honor promises to investigate abuses he faced and guarantee his family’s security.

He said that change in China is inevitable as increasing numbers of citizens shed their fears and assert their rights.

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