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.