Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach, Cleared In House Ethics Probe

Rep. Laura Richardson, D-Long Beach, has been cleared of any wrongdoing after a seven-month investigation by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Washington Mutual foreclosed on a Richardson home in Sacramento and sold it unbeknownst to Richardson. The bank then canceled the sale. The investigation focused on whether Richardson received favorable treatment when the bank canceled the sale and returned the home to her.

The committee found that the bank was in error by selling the home after it told Richardson they were placing a hold on foreclosure, so by canceling the sale it acted appropriately and did not grant a special favor to the congresswoman.

The committee referred the matter to the Justice Department, as members suspect Richardson was the victim of mortgage fraud. The broker "admitted to knowingly submitting fraudulent" information -- overstating Richardson's income without her knowledge -- so that Richardson would get the mortgage that she apparently could not afford.

The investigation is a load off Richardson's back, though she continues to struggle with financial problems. She's defaulted on other homes, and her campaign has debts big and small.

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