1. Welcome to SportsJournalists.com, a friendly forum for discussing all things sports and journalism.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register for a free account to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Access to private conversations with other members.
    • Fewer ads.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Long Beach Democratic Congresswoman walks away from her home

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by poindexter, May 21, 2008.

  1. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Nice elected officials.

    As the real estate market softened in 2007, the new owner of a three-bedroom, 1,600-square-foot house in Sacramento's Curtis Park neighborhood ran into trouble. The house that was purchased for $535,000 in January had lost equity. The owner fell behind in her payments, and eventually, the bank seized the home.

    What makes this story different from the thousands like it is that the owner of this house was a member of Congress.

    The story of the foreclosure of Long Beach Democrat Laura Richardson's Sacramento home is a tale of a real estate market gone sour. It is also an illustration of how far many candidates will go to seek elected office, even if it means quite literally mortgaging their own financial future.

    While being elevated to Congress in a 2007 special election, Richardson apparently stopped making payments on her new Sacramento home, and eventually walked away from it, leaving nearly $600,000 in unpaid loans and fees.

    Richardson's decision to let the house slip into foreclosure was set in motion by an unlikely chain of events, only some of which had to do with Sacramento's crumbling real estate market. Richardson was elected to the Assembly in November 2006, and purchased her new capital home two months later. But in April 2007, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald succumbed to cancer, creating a Congressional vacancy in Richardson's district.

    Richardson declared her candidacy for the seat, and soon found herself locked in a hotly contested, and very expensive race for Congress against state Sen. Jenny Oropeza, D-Long Beach.

    While her campaign heated up, Richardson's house slipped into default. Richardson fell behind on her mortgage payments as she loaned her Congressional campaign $60,000 – money that has begun to be paid back to Richardson personally from her campaign account, according to records from the Center for Responsive Politics.

    Richardson's opponent, Oropeza, loaned herself $115,000 for her run against Richardson. Oropeza's Congressional committee still shows nearly $200,000 in debt.

    Richardson declined to comment for this story.

    But tax records at the Sacramento County assessor's office show that in January 2007, Richardson took out a mortgage for the entire sale price of the house -- $535,000. The mortgage amount was equal to the sale price of the home, meaning she was able to buy the house without a down payment, even though the housing market was beginning to turn.

    A March 19, 2008 notice of trustee's sale indicates that the unpaid balance of Richardson's loan, which is held by Washington Mutual, is more than $578,000 –$40,000 more than the original mortgage.

    The Curtis Park house is not Richardson's primary residence. She also owns a four-bedroom house in Long Beach, in her Congressional district. Real estate records show she purchased that house in 1999 for $135,000. An estimate from Zillow.com puts the current value of that house at $474,000

    Like many homes that have gone through foreclosure, Richardson's new residence quickly became an eyesore. With Richardson gone, upkeep on the home lapsed, and neighbors began to get angry.

    "The neighbors are extremely unhappy with her," said Sharon Helmar, who sold the home to Richardson. "She didn't mow the lawn or take out the garbage while she was there. We lived there for a long time, 30 years, and we had to hide our heads whenever we came back to the neighborhood."

    Helmar and her husband, Mark, sold the Curtis Park home to Richardson because Sharon's arthritis required the couple to move into a one-story house. With the area's real estate market slowing down, the house remained on the market for months, and the Helmars, who lived in the house for more than 30 years, were getting desperate to sell.

    Helmar said that she has never met Richardson personally, but dealt with Richardson through her realtor. The Helmars wound up giving Richardson $15,000 toward closing costs, she said.

    And she is still angry over what happened to a home that clearly she never really wanted to leave. "It's kind of silly. You would think people who are making decisions for others would be able to make good decisions for themselves," she said. "She should have known what she could afford and not afford. In this neighborhood, you just don't do that."

    While Richardson walked away from her loan, she bested Oropeza in a June special election, and moved on to Congress. As a member of Congress, Richardson has been asked to vote on legislation pertaining to the spike in foreclosures around the country.

    On the biggest pieces of legislation having to do with government bailouts for people whose homes have entered foreclosure, Richardson has recused herself. She did not vote on legislation by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass, which would direct $2.7 billion in government funds to help an estimated 500,000 homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure.

    Richardson also did not vote on a measure by Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Los Angeles, that would give local governments $15 billion to purchase, rehab and resell foreclosed properties.

    While Richardson walked away from her bank loan, she has begun to pay herself back for the money she personally invested in her initial race. Records show that Richardson spent $587,000 out of her Congressional campaign committee since declaring her Congressional candidacy through March of this year. Of those expenditures, Richardson has spent $18,000 of that money to begin repaying herself for the money Richardson loaned to her campaign.

    According to documents at the Sacramento County Clerk's office , Richardson first received a default notice in late 2007. By December 2007, less than a year after Richardson purchased the house, she was behind in her payments by more than $18,000.

    Three months later, on March 19, a notice was filed with the county that Richardson's property would be sold at auction. According to the documents, the unpaid balance and other charges Richardson owed the bank was $587,384.
  2. BYH

    BYH Active Member

    Did she go to have sex with a high school-aged kid?
  3. poindexter

    poindexter Well-Known Member

    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 15, 2014
  4. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    If she found herself making payments and still losing equity, I don't blame her.

    You at least can't call her a hypocrite because she recused herself from the bailout votes.
  5. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    When I read "walked away from her house" I expected an entirely different story.
  6. alleyallen

    alleyallen Guest

    Good deal for her to recuse herself from the vote. Bad deal that she let the house lapse like she did, both in payments and in appearance. And not a good example at all to set.
  7. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Here's a robbing Peter to pay Paul question: Why didn't she use her equity in her primary residence to loan money to her campaign?
  8. Or why not just accept the money from a lobbyist in exchange for a vote?
  9. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Well, there's that too.

    And couldn't the Dems have helped her out with some party funds? Or am I way off base and that's against the law? I don't know.
  10. KYSportsWriter

    KYSportsWriter Well-Known Member

    You too?
  11. Armchair_QB

    Armchair_QB Well-Known Member

    Because she planned to default all along and didn't want to lose her primary residence. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that this is a common practice among politicians running for office. Buy a second house, mortgage it to help fund a campaign then default on it after the campaign is over.
  12. Football_Bat

    Football_Bat Well-Known Member

    Except when times were good, they could buy a second house, mortgage it to help fund a campaign, then flip it to pay off the mortgage times three.

    Obviously didn't work.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page