Southern California -- this just in

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Laura Richardson's driving for dollars *

June 30, 2008 | 10:37 am

LincolnShe may have defaulted on mortgages and lost a home in foreclosure, but that hasn't stopped Rep. Laura Richardson from driving in style and at great expense, courtesy of the taxpayer. The lease on the Long Beach Democrat's 2007 Lincoln Town Car costs about $1,300 a month -- the most expensive lease of any member of the House of Representatives, reports the Daily Breeze.  Richardson's monthly lease, paid by the federal government, is much larger than the $400 to $800 a month that other House members pay, according to a taxpayer group.

While Richardson has leased the vehicle only since last fall, it already been involved in one traffic accident while being driven by a staff member. In addition, Long Beach police ticketed the car in January for illegal parking, a ticket that has gone unpaid.

The congresswoman has had a spotty record with government-issued autos in the past:

When she was a councilwoman in Long Beach, she crashed her BMW, abandoned it at a body shop, failed to pay a prior repair bill, and then racked up 30,000 miles on a city-owned hybrid in one year -- apparently violating a policy against personal use of city cars.

-- Jesus Sanchez

Photo: A 2003 Lincoln Town Car. Credit: Ford Motor Co.

* Updated to include Richardson's party affiliation