President-elect Joe Biden's transition team on Tuesday announced that Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., has been tapped as a senior adviser in the White House Office of Public Engagement -- leaving his House seat vacant and bringing with him a number of past controversies.
Richmond served as national co-chairman of the Biden-Harris campaign and currently is a co-chair of the Biden-Harris transition team.
"The future has a habit of arriving unannounced, and I am here to announce the hardest decision of my life," Richmond said in a statement. "Before Jan. 20, I will resign my seat in the United States Congress and take a position in the Biden-Harris administration."
But Richmond has faced controversy in the past, some of which emerged in his 2010 bid for office. The New York Times reported at the time that it had emerged that Richmond had been in a fight in a pool hall in 2007 -- Richmond claimed he was reacting to a "belligerent drunk" who was taunting him with racial epithets.
Politico also reported that he had his law license temporarily suspended in 2008 for listing a false address when he ran for city council in 2005 -- which got him removed from the ballot for that contest.
More recently, he got into hot water in 2017 when he made a joke about White House adviser Kellyanne Conway over a picture showing her kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office during a gathering.
"But I really just want to know what was going on there, because, I won't tell anybody," Richmond said at the Washington Press Club Foundation's congressional dinner. "And you can just explain to me that -- that circumstance, because she really looked kind of familiar there in that position there. But don't answer. And I don't want you to refer back to the '90s."
Richmond initially denied he said anything inappropriate, but to others the remark recalled the Monica Lewinsky scandal, which had briefly been mentioned by the prior speaker, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
Richmond later apologized "after a discussion with people I know and trust" and said he understood "the way my remarks have been received by many."
"I have consistently been a champion for women and women's issues, and because of that the last thing I would want to ever do is utter words that would hurt or demean them," his statement said. "I apologize to Kellyanne Conway and everyone who has found my comments to be offensive."
With the announcement of his new White House role on Wednesday, there were some on the party's left who were unhappy with the selection, due to his stances on fossil fuels.
Justice Democrats executive director Alexandra Rojas said Richmond was a "corporate-friendly" insider and "one of the top Democratic recipients of fossil fuel money."
"Richmond has been aggressively criticized by his own constituents for failing to act on their concerns revolving around industry regulations and the climate crisis," Rojas said. "This move gives greater urgency for Joe Biden to create an Office of Climate Mobilization on Day One and appoint progressives with records standing up to the fossil fuel industry."
Fox News' Brooke Singman and Samuel Chamberlain contributed to this report.