A federal grand jury returned a 94-page indictment on 16 counts against Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. You may recall raids last year – which were challenged by Jefferson – on his Capitol office and Washington, DC home where $90,000 cash was discovered in his freezer. The charges today include:
Solicitation of bribes, racketeering, wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, violations of the foreign corrupt practices act and conspiracy.
If convicted on all counts, Bribing Bill Jefferson could be looking at 235 years in the slammer.
At a press conference today at the Justice Dept, as many as “11 different bribe schemes” were used to “enrich himself and other family members.” Jefferson’s primary scheme involved his securing business deals in Nigeria and Ghana.
Already, two Jefferson associates – a telecom executive Vernon Jackson and Jefferson aide Brett Pfeffer – have plead guilty in participating in the bribery schemes.
“This case is about greed, power and arrogance and everyone is entitled to ethical behavior,” said FBI’s Washington Field Office Asst Dir Joe Persichini.
That’s a very interesting statement considering that the congressman was once on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee. And more than that, he was easily re-elected (57%) to a 9th term last year despite the raids and an ongoing bribery investigation.
New Orleans bemoans its reputation as a “corrupt” city. But when they re-elect shining pillars of integrity who stash $90,000 of an FBI Informant’s cash in their freezer next to the Ben and Jerry’s, they end up getting what they ask for: corrupt officials.
This is pure speculation on my part, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mayor Ray Nagin come to Jefferson’s defense before the trial concludes. After all, Nagin and Jefferson supported each other’s successful re-election bids last year. But I will be shocked – although not necessarily surprised – if Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton comes to Jefferson’s aid too.
But this is nothing new to Washington. Another case of Potomac Fever infects another weak civil servant who sought to make a mockery of our government…
What really gets me is this: whether it’s Jim Trafficant or Duke Cunningham or even Mark Foley, when are we going to learn to quit sending these guys to work in Washington?
In fairness to Jefferson, he has been indicted – not convicted. That may or may not come in the not too distant future. Either way – the guy doesn’t deserve to remain in office.
House Minority Leader John Boehner is already leading the charge to force a House vote to expel Jefferson while Speaker Nancy Pelosi rides the fence in this statement:
"The charges in the indictment against Congressman Jefferson are extremely serious. While Mr. Jefferson, just as any other citizen, must be considered innocent until proven guilty, if these charges are proven true, they constitute an egregious and unacceptable abuse of public trust and power. "As we have demonstrated in implementing tough ethics reforms and passing tough lobbying reforms already this year, Democrats are committed to upholding a high ethical standardand eliminating corruption and unethical behavior from the Congress.”
I hope they do the right thing. Jefferson himself could do us all a favor too – and resign for the preservation of the House’s integrity.
I can be reached for questions or comments at Griffsnotes@foxnews.com.