Calif. congresswoman defaulted on homes six times

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - Rep. Laura Richardson, whose Sacramento home was recently sold into foreclosure, has two other homes in Southern California that have fallen into default six times, according to a published report.

Five of the defaults totaling nearly $71,000 occurred in the last 13 months for the homes the Democrat still owns in San Pedro and Long Beach, according to county documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

During much of that time, Richardson used $177,500 to finance her campaigns for Congress and the California Assembly, the newspaper said.

She faces two challengers in Tuesday's primary.

"As I noted in my statements earlier this week, due to multiple job changes, divorce, illness/death, and nine campaigns over the last ten years, these major life-changing moments have come at great personal expense and at challenging financial strain," Richardson said in a statement Saturday.

"Instead of politicizing a personal housing crisis (two personal properties that are current and the third that is being challenged by my lender questioning the validity of its sale), I have been transparent with this matter and share with my constituents the anguish that the housing industry is in a severe crisis," Richardson said.

Richardson has acknowledged using her money to finance her campaigns and falling behind in mortgage payments. She claimed her Sacramento house was sold into foreclosure without her knowledge, contending she had renegotiated her loan to pay it off.

Neighbors in the upper middle-class Curtis Park neighborhood said she neglected the property.

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Sean Padovan, a retired Sacramento police sergeant who lives three doors away from the three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath house, grew concerned when the grass grew nearly a foot high.

"I finally went down there and said, 'Would you mind if I mowed your lawn for you?' She said, 'I've been awful busy. Sure.' "

Richardson's Craftsman-style house has also fallen into disrepair. The beige paint is peeling, a garage window is broken, and the grass has turned brown.

This week, her challenger Peter Mathews staged a news conference near the house to highlight what he termed Richardson's "pattern of fiscal irresponsibility."

Richardson bought a four-bedroom, two-bath house in Long Beach for $135,000 so she could run for an open seat on the Long Beach City Council in 2000. In 2006, she was elected to the Assembly and then to Congress the next year in the special election to replace the late Juanita Millender-McDonald to represent the 37th Congressional District, which includes Long Beach, Carson and Compton.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

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