The Washington Times - June 28, 2011, 01:39PM

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to launch a criminal investigation of Rep. Laura Richardson regarding possible misuse of her staff.

CREW, an independent governmenet watchdog group, says it has obtained internal office emails that show Ms. Richardson, California Democrat, routinely forced her congressional staff to work on her re-election campaign or risk losing their jobs. She also required staff to perform personal errands, the group says.


Internal emails regarding a fundraising event dubbed “Democratic Idol” show that Richardson Chief of Staff Shirley Cooks told employees they were required to attend the event, wearing staff shirts that said “37th Congressional District,” CREW says. In an email from her official House account, Ms. Cooks said spouses and interns were expected to attend as well.

“Rep. Richardson presented staffers with an odious choice: work on her campaign or lose their jobs,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “Rep. Richardson didn’t just violate House rules, she likely committed crimes.”

This isn’t the first time the third-term Southern California lawmaker has faced ethics questions. The House ethics committee investigated her in 2009 regarding complaints about her foreclosed Sacramento home. The panel later cleared her of any wrongdoing in the case.