Capital Weekly is telling the story of Congresswoman Laura Richardson’s decision to Walk Away.

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.

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 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.”

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.

No Money Down Strikes Again.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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