Jefferson Indicted in Bribery Probe

Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA), who last year was caught on tape accepting from an FBI informant $100,000 in $100 bills, which were later found in his freezer, has now been indicted on federal charges of racketeering, soliciting bribes, and money laundering.

The indictment handed up Monday in federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, is 94 pages long and lists 16 alleged violations of federal law that could keep Jefferson in prison for up to 235 years, according to a Justice Department official who has seen the document.

Among the charges listed in the indictment, said the official, are racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

I’m in complete agreement with Steve Benen, who says, bluntly, “I have no qualms at all about Dems disassociating themselves with Jefferson entirely. The sooner the better.”

On the other side of the aisle, Republicans have a certain tendency to show tolerance for the indicted. When Tom DeLay was about to be indicted, the House GOP changed the rules to protect him. When Duke Cunningham was indicted, the House GOP made excuses for him. When Bob Ney was indicted, the House GOP pretended it was no big deal.

Dems have already shown that they’re willing to take a no-nonsense attitude on corruption, and I hope today’s indictment encourages them to do even more.

Of course there’s a presumption of innocence, but it’s fair to say the evidence looks really, really bad for Jefferson. If the bribery charges have merit, and it appears they do, I don’t want him in our caucus; I don’t want him in our party; and I don’t expect him to get any support from Democrats anywhere.

There are some options. When former Rep. Jim Trafficant (D-Ohio), another obvious crook, won re-election a few cycles ago, Dems refused to acknowledge his existence, and wouldn’t give him any committee assignments. There’s no reason Jefferson can’t receive the same treatment.

Yes, yes, and yes.

It would also behoove the Dems to remember that it their sweep of the mid-terms last November was based on two issues: the Iraq War and corruption. Even Karl Rove (via) expressed surprise at how significant a role corruption played in the last election:

“The profile of corruption in the exit polls was bigger than I’d expected,” Rove tells TIME. “Abramoff, lobbying, Foley and Haggard [the disgraced evangelical leader] added to the general distaste that people have for all things Washington, and it just reached critical mass.”

The Democrats were sent to D.C. to put an end to the gluttonous reign of the GOP, and the Americans who sent them there will be looking to them to deal swiftly and decidedly with any corruption on their side of the aisle.

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14 Comments

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14 responses to “Jefferson Indicted in Bribery Probe

  1. Nik E Poo

    Assuming this guy really did it (getting found guilty is a likely indicator) … I find it hard to believe that “loyalty” to a person who would engage in corruption is even entertained.

    That said …the scale of Congressman William Jefferson’s corruption is yawn-worthy. There’s much worse shit going on … in broad daylight … every *fucking day in Iraq.

    *added in solidarity with the return of Mr Furious.

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  3. The thing about Jefferson is that he’s long been suspected of being dirty. He got into Congress when I was a teenager living north of New Orleans, and the jokes about “Dollar” Bill Jefferson had already started. Of course, he cut his political teeth in the system that gave us Edwin Edwards, so his level of corruption probably didn’t even register.

  4. Definite yawn… Don’t we all have a freezer full of cash? I am partial to a Maleficent cookie jar.

  5. “That said …the scale of Congressman William Jefferson’s corruption is yawn-worthy.”

    No, it really isn’t. He needs to be removed from all committee assignments immediately. The American people voted in the Democratic majority in large part to deal with the corruption. They need to put their money where their mouth is.

    The Congressional Black Caucus has been an enabler here and needs reforming, too. They went down to campaign for Jefferson in the runoff (when he was running against an actual progressive, an African American woman). Loyalty to crooked politicians has no place, and the Dems and the CBC need to root out the corrupt and support candidates who are committed to reform. Their track record isn’t great so far.

  6. markg8

    From his bio:

    “Jefferson is an active and senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and its subcommittee on Trade. He is also a member of the House Committee on the Budget.”

    You’ll notice it doesn’t say he’s chairman of the Ways and Means Committee or the House Committee on the Budget. You know why that is. Because last year when the FBI raided hs office Pelosi stripped him of his leadership positions.

    The Democratic party did it’s best to oust him in the primary and run off elections but the people down there don’t much trust outsiders telling them who to elect I guess.

    Contrast that with Denny Hastert’s shrieking over the raid on Jefferson’s office and his years’ long cover up of Mark Foley’s scandals. And how about Boehner appointing Ken Calvert to the Appropriations’ Committee when John Doolittle had to step down pending his indictment? Turns out the FBI is delving into Calvert’s records too. Jerry Lewis, House Appropriations ranking member is not long for congress either.

    If you’re keeping score at home here’s some info for you:

    Congress.Org Jefferson’s Power Rank Standings

    Power Ranking: 439
    Power Score: -2.50
    Rank in Chamber: 439
    Rank in State: 7
    Rank in Party: 237
    Rank in Class of 1990: 19
    Past Power Rankings
    2005 Rankings: 412 2006 Rankings: 436

    Man he’s last in the party and the entire chamber! This guy not only has less pull than any Democrat or Republican but with a -2.50 power rating he could probably cause your bill to spontaneously burst into flames by glancing approvingly at it!

    Compare that to 4th ranking Repub Jerry Lewis Power Rank Standings

    Power Ranking: 118
    Power Score: 19.53
    Rank in Chamber: 118
    Rank in State: 19
    Rank in Party: 4
    Rank in Class of 1978: 1

    Lewis is probably going to retire next year before of course he’s indicted first in the Duke Cunningham scandal. Like the disgraced traitor Duke – and that’s what people who bilk the national security apparatus of the US ought to be considered – Lewis is going to find out that resigning doesn’t make much difference to honest feds (but who knows how many of those are left in Gonzalez’s DOJ?) when it comes to felony charges.

    And yet there sits Lewis as ranking minority member on the Appropriations Committee. 4th most powerful Repub and 118th most powerful member in the House.

    Why doesn’t Boehner force him to step down? LOL, have you seen the Republican House caucus? Replacing Jesse James with Billy the Kid isn’t going to curb crime in Dodge City.

  7. 90grand is a YAWN compared to the real amounts of money that change hands in our fair government. Jefferson will be the DEM’S version of Delay. O’ the delight in that! WE hold Dems to a higher standard because we idealistic hope for some degree of accountability, but in the end we are left trying to shit in a Dixie cup. There never seems to be change no matter who shouts the loudest.

    Wasn’t rooting out corruption suppose to happen in the first 100 hours? It isn’t going so well.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am glad he was indicted, but this will last well into next year like Delay. Like any politician, Jefferson will fight to the end to preserve his “integrity” or whatever bullshit they call it these days. There is no “crime,” just legal interpretation. Haven’t we learned anything from Gonzo and Bush?

  8. I just read Mark’s comment after I posted mine. Maybe Jefferson is more like Elmer Fudd at a possible Bugs Bunny sentencing for solicitation than Delay.

  9. Nik E Poo

    He needs to be removed from all committee assignments immediately.

    At no point did my fingers leave my hand … nor did I suggest that Jefferson should be encouraged to retain his position … if he is found guilty. If congressional rules dictate that a person under investigation be removed from committee … then by all means … remove him from committee (although I recall no such rule enforced on DeLay). If Democrats want to make a point of being corruption busters … and re-write the rules to be more strict … they’ve got my vote!

    BUT …part of the whole motivation of innocent until proven guilty … is to prevent law enforcement … from exerting political influence. We’ve seen evidence of capital hill police engaging in racially motivated harassment of congressmen before … so there is a very real possibility that the prosecution of this case, is tainted by such issues.

    As for yawn factor … we’re talking about corruption regarding telecommunications legislation (which Jefferson got about $400k for) … and a subsequent cover up. As much as I want that shit nipped in the bud … I’d much rather have prosecution of Bush for perjury which lead to thousands upon thousands of deaths and hundreds of billions of dollars set fire to. Or any number of similar issues … in which people wind up dead. Call me crazy … but thats the kind of corruption I want investigated.

  10. markg8

    Well as you can see with a Congress.org power rating of -2.50 Jefferson is like a pariah with leprosy. Even the “watchers” without a vote from Guam and the District of Columbia have more pull than he does.

    The sad thing is he ran on being able to do things with his senority for the hard hit and still suffering people of NO. I hope he does resign because anybody, even an empty suit could do a better job for his constiuents who really need a champion than he would under these circumstances.

  11. yeah, but how many hit points does he have?

  12. Paen

    How can anyone expect policians in America to be honest when your elections are so expensive?

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