Just to bring you up to date: Democrat Calif. Rep. Laura Richardson yesterday denied a Capitol Weekly report that she had walked away from her half-million-dollar-plus, second-home mortgage. Mounting evidence contracts her denial.
Also: I am checking with California government officials to try to get an answer to WLS’s good question about whether Richardson, who was a California state assemblywoman when she purchased the now-abandoned home, was “receiving tax-free per diem from the State of California to pay for the mortgage [on the house]…which she elected not to pay in order to pump money into her campaign for Congress.” Stay tuned for that.
Meantime, last night, the AP published more details of the Hillary superdelegate’s financial woes. Turns out she didn’t bother to pay utility fees and property taxes on the house, either:
California Congresswoman Laura Richardson has a unique perspective on the housing foreclosure bills moving through Congress: One of her own homes was threatened with repossession after she failed to pay the mortgage.
Richardson, a Southern California Democrat, bought a two-story home in a leafy, upper-middle class neighborhood of Sacramento in January 2007, just months after winning a seat in the state Assembly.
Property records on file in Sacramento show Richardson bought the three-bedroom, 1 1/2-bath home on West Curtis Drive for $535,500.
The bill collectors started knocking soon after, according to records reviewed Wednesday by The Associated Press.
In June 2007, the city’s utility department placed a lien on her property for $154 in unpaid bills, according to documents on file at the Sacramento County Recorder’s Office. In December, Richardson received a default notice from the collection agency of Washington Mutual Inc., her lender. At that point, she owed $18,356. …Records on file at the Sacramento County Tax Collector’s Office also show Richardson is delinquent in paying $8,950 in property taxes.
The WSJ followed up and quoted the buyer of Richardson’s house scoffing at the politician’s denials. The bank took a $200,000 hit as a result of Richardson’s decision to ditch the house, which was filled with “trash to the ceiling” when she abandoned it:
James York, the Sacramento broker who bought the three-bedroom, 1.5-bathroom home, rejected the idea that the home hadn’t been seized. The sale of the home was announced in March. “She’s walked away from the property,” he said. “I would be happy to resell her the home for the $535,000.”
Richardson declined to be interviewed Wednesday about the foreclosure, which was first revealed in Capitol Weekly, a Sacramento-based publication. But in a statement, Richardson denied that the home was in foreclosure and said it had not been seized by the bank.
“I have worked with my lender to complete a loan modification and have renegotiated the terms of the agreement – with no special provisions,” Richardson said in the statement. “I fully intend to fulfill all financial obligations on the property.”
That would come as a surprise to James York, the Sacramento real estate broker who bought Richardson’s house at auction. York specializes in buying and selling foreclosed homes, and said he eventually intends to resell Richardson’s home, which overlooks a park in an upscale neighborhood.
York produced a trustee’s deed confirming that his company, Red Rock Mortgage Inc., owns the house.
York said the house was relatively clean when he found it, at least compared to other foreclosed homes, though the garage was “full of trash to the ceiling.” Workers have been cleaning it out and tending to the yard, which had been left unmowed for months.
When he bought the house at 3622 W. Curtis Drive, York assumed responsibility for Richardson’s unpaid property tax bill of $8,950.79.
“Tell Laura I’d be happy to have her pay my property tax,” York said.
The real loser in the deal was Washington Mutual Bank, which issued Richardson a $535,000 loan with no money down in January 2007. By the time the default notice was issued, Richardson was underwater on the loan. She owed about $575,000, including $18,000 in missed payments.
Washington Mutual ended up writing off nearly $200,000 of that debt to get rid of the property. “They took a beating,” York said.
The previous owner of the home, Sharon Helmar, said the neighbors were “appalled” that Richardson was not maintaining the lawn. Another neighbor said that until recently the grass was about a foot high.
“It’s kind of heartbreaking to see something you’ve worked on for 30 years be left and not taken care of,” Helmar said. “You would have thought someone like that would have been a little more responsible.”
Not really. I repeat: This behavior, which has only been encouraged by the latest rounds of stimulus-palooza and the subprime rescue bandwagon, is perfectly in keeping with the Beltway spend-borrow-screw over-repeat culture.