Jefferson Gets the Cold Shoulder

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The long saga of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) developed a new kink yesterday, as Democrats voted to kick the cash-hoarding congressman off the Ways and Means committee. The guys who have to clean the committee's meat freezer are pleased; Jefferson and the leader of the Congressional Black Caucus are not.

Asked if he thought race was a factor in Pelosi's decision, Jefferson replied before the vote, "It's not happened before. The first time it's happening, it's happening to an African-American."

[CBC Chairman Mel] Watt warned last week that singling out Jefferson would not be received well by black voters.

Thursday, he said, "Our constituents will import their own interpretation into this, and a number of them will import that there's a different standard in our caucus based on race."

Watt's head-scratching demogoguery obscures one of the reasons Democrats were so eager to wish Jefferson into the cornfield; he didn't vote the way they wanted. Even though he represents a rock-solid Democratic district, he stiffed the party on 2005's bankruptcy reform bill. Maryland's Al Wynn, another black Democrat who voted for that bill, is facing a semi-serious primary challenge this year. Jefferson would probably be primaried this year, too, if his New Orleans district wasn't such a basket case that the need for a non-bribed congressman falls somewhere between "clean up 10-month-old trash" and "police Katrina fraud."

This is probably a minority opinion, but I feel Jefferson's biggest crime—deserving of congressional expulsion, the loss of his pension, maybe 100 sit-ups—is his crushing boring-ness. The man took bribes from a shady African company and wrapped the cash in foil, and he's offered absolutely zero stupid excuses or hilarious lies to wriggle his way out of the scandal. His first spin was that "there are two sides to every story." What the hell is that supposed to mean? Why can't he claim that he actually enjoys the taste of money after it's deep-freezed and dusted with breading? Why not claim that a goddamn bitch set him up?

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  1. This whole thing is such a treat. Here we see Dems gutting their sacred cows just to save their necks.

    And it also makes their pretending that they are less corrupt than the Repulsicans that much more ridiculous.

    What a bunch of clowns. This country is ripe for a “change” (illusion that it is), and these idiots are going to blow it.

  2. For us New Orleanais who experienced the post-Katrina refrigerator trauma what strikes me funny is what would have happened if the FBI had not found dollar Bill’s money just before the storm. For the uninitiated, imagine what happens when a fridge full on meet, cheese and everything else sits in 100 degree heat for three weeks, while the government keeps you from coming back. You just duct tape up the doors and haul the thing out to the street. It would have been great if Jefferson’s kids or his sister had “done him a favor” and hauled his freezer out to the street.

  3. I’m not sure I buy the story of fiece Democratic party discipline Dave’s trying to sell. Not exactly something they’re known for.

  4. Does anybody know, even at this late date, what exactly Jefferson promised to do with the money?

    I don’t think that part should remain secret.

  5. This just has that air of black people refusing to believe someone black actually committed a crime by virtue of their position in society. As with OJ Simpson to blacks it didn’t seem to matter if he was a knife wielding murderer all that mattered was the racist cop.

    This says to me the community of inclusion that always singles themselves out when best suited really doesn’t have any set of ethics or individual ability to think beyond what their “leaders,” tell them to think. And here I was thinking slavery ended long ago when in fact its just become a tool of the politicians.

    CBC saying the blacks won’t take kindly to a black being the FIRST person to go down for such things and will consider it racist action. So they totally overlook his none response to the money in his freezer and two others already in jail. If it was anyone else white or black from the mainstream our asses would be in jail no questions asked.

    Hmmm seems like just a few months ago blacks hijacked all of Feb. to tell me all about the blacks that were the FIRST to do wonderful things. If you want to be able to take credit for Firsts you had better be willing to accept them from both good and bad outlooks.

    Nothing like some good hypocrisy to keep the nation on a fast track to the shitter.

  6. Mel Watt says it may not be received well by black voters?
    What are they gonna do, vote Republican?
    (waiting a second for the laughter to die down)

    It reminds me of all the horseshit pundit hand-wringing over Clin-ton signing the Welfare Reform act and the potential effect on his liberal “base”…it really hurt him in 1996.

  7. Does anybody know, even at this late date, what exactly Jefferson promised to do with the money?

    I heard he was going to buy HFCS for the downtrodden.

  8. See, if I were reporting on the Congressional Black Caucus’s position on Jefferson, or on the racial angle of this story in general, I would have mentioned that the two most promient African-Americans in the House, John Conyers and John Lewis, both voted against Jefferson.

    A lot of people have a tendendy to think of all black people behaving in a certain way, especially when doing so helps to frame an issue in their favor. Hi, Dar. So when commented on the racial dynamics behind a certain political action, I wouldn’t bury significant information that disrupts that narrative. Especially when the narrative in question is so familiar, ingrained, and powerful in our society.

    But that’s the media for you – they sure do loves them some familiar narratives.

  9. As with OJ Simpson to blacks it didn’t seem to matter if he was a knife wielding murderer all that mattered was the racist cop.

    all that mattered was all the racists cops in LA that all the jurors met over the course of their combined years.

    Maybe they came across more racist LA cops in their particular lives than you have happened to come across in yours. Maybe the LA cops were more open about their racism with the people who sat on the jury than the LA cops you have met have been with you.

    There is this bugaboo about the case that there could be no framing because too many LA cops would have to be willing to lie and co-operate. I don’t think you could have a feeling for this either way unless you have personally had occasion to talk to lots of LA cops.

    There is a reason that juries are of peers. The peers have a better sense of the local cops than some white boy in the suburbs or in another state.

  10. btw, I know OJ did it. But I know because I was privy to facts that it would not be proper for the jury to consider.

    Primarily I know that the media was watching the case like a hawk and would have reported something if they found police funny business.

    I know that.

    You know that.

    We both know that that means OJ really did it.

    However, the jury is not allowed to consider that in the context of a jury trial.

    Those silly black ladies actually understand the system better than you do. they got a bad rap.

  11. joe, that’s a fair enough point–I think blacks are regularly treated as thinking in some sort of monolithic fashion, which is clearly not the case. People rarely work that way, except in very, very tightly controlled cultures (like some of the more conservative religious groups, and even then, well, people are people!).

    Still, the Congressional Black Caucus is its own worst enemy in this regard. Playing to racism fears without considering other issues (like overwhelming evidence of guilt) really damages what credibility the caucus retains. Which isn’t much. Then again, that statement is true of most groups within Congress, isn’t it?

  12. joe:

    That is an interesting point.

    An asise: I would think that Charles “Bring Back The Draft – Just Kidding” Rangel would be considered more prominent than John “Who The Hell Am I?” Lewis.

  13. “Does anybody know, even at this late date, what exactly Jefferson promised to do with the money?”

    with it? or, for it?

  14. like overwhelming evidence of guilt

    what did Jefferson promise to do? How can you see overwhelming evidence of guilt if you don’t even know why Jefferson was paid?

    Maybe it was legitimate research expenses.

    For all you know, maybe Jefferson only told the informant that he would hold her money until she got a safe for it, at which time he would give it all back.

    You haven’t heard the tapes. You have no idea (at least in the sense of legal evidence) why Jefferson had that money. I understand that a layperson would convict on that basis, but c’mon PL.

    There is circumstantial evidence of guilt here which is hypothetically rebuttable in 10,000 ways at least. This is no trout in the milk case. Not overwhelming, ‘less and ’til you’ve heard the tape.

  15. I am from New Orleans so please go on tell me more about racism PLEASEEEEE I just can’t get enough. Cops in ALL cities are above the law and will do as they please not just in LA and the color really doesn’t seem to matter much when you get to the root of it all its personal gain. Jefferson is no different than the cops that looted, he is a crook plain and simple.

    Knowing for a fact someone is guilty and letting them go because you also know someone else is not singing the songs of racially equality is a joke. I would not let someone go who killed someone else just because I knew the people who saw it happen had some racial thoughts in their heads at other times.

    So one side won’t acknowledge a killer as a killer while another side won’t acknowledge its racial bias in the past. Now what do we have from all this progress? A killer on the streets free and cops still being racial. Exactly which one has to go away for anything to actually be done with regard to either?

    Which came first the racist or the murderer?

    Whats most amusing to me is that for as long and hard as blacks have fought for equality they rarely want to take equal responsible for the problem. Typical blame anyone but me routine, yeah I am guilty of murder but hell those people are racist.

    If blacks think they are a minority now wait till we have all these new hispanic citizens screaming for theirs. I used to think racism was black and white being from Louisiana but after living in Houston for 5 years I found out otherwise. The blacks didn’t want the Hispanics running anything and vice versa. While the white people really had no say in the matter since they are the minority just like in New Orleans. Shows me that no matter what, those not in power will want it all and when they get it will not want to ever give it up. Has nothing to do with equality has everything to do with power.

    Mr. Jefferson may now have the floor to explain how I am racist because he had 90 grand frozen in his freezer.

    Remember….. If the freezer wrap doesn’t fit, you must acquit!

  16. I am from New Orleans so please go on tell me more about racism PLEASEEEEE

    You might know about New Orleans and/or Houston style racism (if any), not LA style.

    Jury of peers means just that, PEERS. Not busybodies from 2000 miles away.

  17. oh btw, I KNOW Jefferson is crooked because he is a politician from La. and its a requirement to run for any office here.

    Sure he is innocent until proven guilty, whenever that might happen if at all.

    Dave your so right to think he is guilty just because of the few facts we currently have is not fair. The fact 2 others are in jail, the freezer money, the trip to his house right after the storm and his refusal to say anything certainly point to innocence in my eyes.

    Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go piss in a cup and prove my innocence for Mr. Jefferson and his pals in DC. Equality ain’t it fucking grand!!!!

  18. Well, Dave, I’m not sitting in court as a judge or a juror. If I were, I’d give him his presumption and his right to defend himself. But I’ve seen enough to toss his ass right out of Congress. And I doubt seriously that this is all a plot by Mark Fuhrman to falsely accuse Jefferson 🙂

    Remember, it’s a legal presumption of innocence that the state must accord the Dishonorable Mr. Jefferson, not I. I think he’s a guilty bastard and deserves both tar and feathers. Sure, maybe it’s an evil, GOP conspiracy, but I doubt it.

  19. HAHA so its not racism unless its a white involved right? Or better yet it only exists in LA because like everything else in this country unless it comes from one of our lovely progressive shit hole cities like LA or NY it really just doesn’t matter. We as a nation are so screwed because we spend all our energy on race and how it divides us instead of working together for the good of the whole. Whats in it for me is all we think no matter the skin color.

  20. Remember, it’s a legal presumption of innocence that the state must accord the Dishonorable Mr. Jefferson, not I. I think he’s a guilty bastard and deserves both tar and feathers. Sure, maybe it’s an evil, GOP conspiracy, but I doubt it.

    Personally my motives are interior. I want to know what a quid pro quo (or influence or whatever you want to call it) looks like.

    This kind of case should be precedent, rather than a secret plea bargain. I like the standards to which we hold our legislators to be transparent, more so than they are right now.

    Helps keep the FBI from being too selective in regards to its stings.

  21. Cause, ya know, if that money was given to Jefferson for things Jefferson was going to do anyway without the payment, then there is really no harm.

    Or so some would argue.

  22. Quid pro quo. Legitimate research. Listen to the tape. Quid pro quo. Legitimate research. Listen to the tape. Quid pro quo. Legitimate research. Listen to the tape. Quid pro quo. Legitimate research. Listen to the tape. Quid pro quo. Legitimate research. Listen to the tape.

  23. Dave, I know you’re making a point about campaign finance laws and the arguments against them, but this is out-and-out bribery. Yeah, campaign contributions kinda serve the same purpose, but getting re-elected and buying that yacht are two different things. I don’t necessarily trust the FBI much, either, but I think they know enough to not have given Jefferson the money without making sure he agreed to do something in return for it. Heck, a real briber would insist on that, too!

  24. Cause, ya know, if that money was given to Jefferson for things Jefferson was going to do anyway without the payment, then there is really no harm.

    In that case, it would be a fraud perpetrated on whoever gave him the money. They didn’t think they were paying for nothing, and you can be damn sure he led them to believe they were paying for something.

    So he’s either a lying skunk, or a whoring skunk. Either way, he’s a skunk.

    Look, there is just no explanation for his behavior that squares with him being allowed to sit in the halls of power any longer.

  25. Okay, Broken Record. Let’s bring it all back home with a tough question lurking with the cash in Jefferson’s freezer: If you accept money for something you believe in and are going to do anyway, then should the fact that you are being paid be held against you?

    Some views (not mine):

    https://www.reason.com/hitandrun/2006/01/punditry_for_po.shtml

    Moneyquote:
    “The thing is, avoiding the taint of [lobbyist money] is purely a practical concern for me. I do not see any ethical problem with, say, writing an essay for an industry-supported Web site (another offer I recently declined). I do not worry that if I went to Cancun on a tobacco company’s dime I would suddenly find myself abandoning my principles . . .”

    http://citizensforethics.org/press/pressclip.php?view=228

  26. it would be a fraud perpetrated

    want to get a plug in for my record here. It is a greatest hits package, 23 songs long, spanning 13 years of my career in music. Download for free at:

    http://www.farceswannamo.com

  27. Mr. Nice Guy: surely you don’t think that Jefferson singlehandedly balances out Cunningham, Ney, Lewis, DeLay, the whole Abramoff gang, etc.?

  28. Congress? Hell! The’re ALL a bunch of crooks. It’s just that they haven’t ALL been caught yet!

  29. First I will say that I am from New Orleans and I have never liked Jefferson very much. I don’t think the outcome of this fiasco will be good for him either.

    That being said… He is correct when he says that “he has not been charged with a crime” and that “historically, even when a member of Congress has been so charged, he or she steps aside from a committee or subcommittee chairmanship, but not from the committee itself.”

    Alan Mollohan did step down as the top Democrat on the ETHICS Committee but he still remains on the Appropriations Committee.

    Bob Ney gave up his chairmanship on the Administration Committee but still retains his seat there.

    Why was Jefferson forced to relinquish his committee post and Mollohan and Ney were not?

    There are lots of examples where the same policy is used. Why is he being treated differently?

    I’m not black and as a rule I think the race card is overplayed. I am not inclined to think it has much to do with this situation either but something does seem wrong. I do think Jefferson is right about that.

  30. Does anybody know, even at this late date, what exactly Jefferson promised to do with the money?

    I heard he was going to buy HFCS for the downtrodden.

    And then some Vioxx if that gave them headaches…

  31. Dar is exactly correct about power. Those who have it work hard to keep it. expand it. Those who don’t have power work just as hard to obtain it. It was precious when a black alderman (Tillman , Chicago) stated that she wouldn’t ever give anything up to the hispanics(the issue was of course gerrymandering districts). Made me think right there that at least some blacks must not have it so bad.

    Only solution I can think of is to severely restict the power of politicians to regulate our lives. Is there a party out there that would to anything to curtail the power of the government and give it back to who it belongs: the citizens of our great country?

  32. What did Jefferson promise to do with the money? I am sure we will find out. For those not aware, Congressmen/Women and their staff have power to influence/approve the awarding of contracts against descretionary/grant money allocated in their districts. That’s why congres has so much power and influence because they control the cold cash. A lot of very capable companies bid and lot of the bids look pretty close and best overall value to the government (expertise/proven history) not necessarily lowest bid is the criteria for awarding contracts. It only takes a little inside information and inside influence, combined with a crooked congressman and staff to get a fat contract. Apparently a businesswomen got tired of the payola requirement, contacted the FBI and took down a congressman. The FBI will respond and investigate credible reports from any citizen who reports this type of activity. Apparently a congressman forgot the LA protocol of only doing business with friends and family. Yes, there is racism in America (shock). Advice. If color matters, throw out the black crook and get another black man or woman of honor and integrity.

  33. Jefferson committed criminal acts (taking bribes) on camera and that’s why he was thrown off a committee that manages large sums of money. Presumption of inocence only applies to the judicial process. We the people and our representitives are free to say what we like and suffer the consequences mind you. The LA Police that beat Rodney King were immediately taken off patrol, receiving pay, pending an investigation. Mr Jefferson is still on the job being paid by his public. If his following would like to bow down and kiss his ring so be it. He just got thrown off a committee that requires the trust and confidence of your peers.
    Black Caucus is irrelavent as they are owned lock stock and barrel by the Democratic Party. Who cares what they think.

  34. committed criminal acts (taking bribes)

    I thought it was only a bribe if you promised to do something in exchange for the money. How do you know that Jefferson promised to do anything in exchange for the money?

    I want to find out what he promised, but nobody seems to know. Holding cash for an associate, even in your freezer was not a bribe or a crime last I checked.

  35. Jaime –

    Ney is a Republican, which is why he’s still in place. Same with Jerry Lewis, who’s chair of appropriations. Trent Lott stayed in place until the criticism was too loud to take. They changed the rules to protect DeLay until the criticism was too loud to take. So the difference appears to be that the Democratic Party is much more aggressive on these matters than the Republicans.

    Frankly I think it would have been more racist to leave Jefferson alone, based on my hope and sincere belief that the Dems would have done the same to a white person found with that kind of money in their freezer – it would have been either pandering to the black vote or implying that there are lower ethical standards for blacks….

  36. RC Dean,

    In that case, it would be a fraud perpetrated on whoever gave him the money. They didn’t think they were paying for nothing, and you can be damn sure he led them to believe they were paying for something.

    I know you’re the lawyer, but are bribes enforceable contracts? I thought a contract to do something illegal was null and void. ie, if I pay someone $10,000 to kill my next-door neighbor, I can’t sue him for fraud when he doesn’t follow through.

  37. Dave W.

    I know you are a fan of Wikipedia (as am I), so I’m surprised that you haven’t gone to the William Jefferson entry to see the evidence, including testimony by people who have pled guilty to both aiding and abetting bribery of a public offical and bribing a public official. Unless you want to suggest that these people have pled guilty to a crime they did not commit?

  38. jf,

    when there is tape, I highly prefer the tape over interested plea bargainers.

  39. Dave W.

    Point taken. You may be putting the bar pretty high, though, considering that the tape probably won’t be released until after any criminal trial. I’m willing to at least consider the pretty damning (albeit circumstantial) evidence out there. It’s the old smoke… fire thing.

  40. JF,

    My concern is that we will never get to hear the tape for the exact reason I want to hear it.

    I highly suspect Jefferson is guilty.

    I also suspect that other legislators take valuable consideration on the same pretexts Jefferson did, but are a bit subtler about the manner in which they launder the money, leaving out the part about the freezer and the foil. That should not make a difference.

    I do not mind that we do not have the tape now, but I have a feeling that this is my last meaningful chance to complain that we will not have the tape ever b4 everybody “moves on.”

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