Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana has been indicted on, according to Fox News, “16 counts of bribery, obstruction of justice, wire fraud, money laundering and racketeering”.
From the article:
The indictment says Jefferson received more than $500,000 in bribes and sought millions more in separate schemes to enrich himself by using his office to broker business deals in Africa. The charges came almost two years after investigators raided Jefferson’s home in Washington and found $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer. If convicted on all charges, Jefferson could face a maximum sentence of 235 years.
None of this is news. Neither is it news that LA voters re-elected Jefferson in 2006 despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt in these crimes. Let it never be said that people don’t get the representation they deserve.
What is new is that Democrats have finally admitted that one of theirs is bad and has been for a long, long time. More:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, the second-highest ranked House Democrat next to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, suggested it was time for Jefferson to step down — although he didn’t explicitly call for his resignation.
Asked if Jefferson should resign, Hoyer told reporters that Jefferson’s “effectiveness is substantially impaired,” and he should take that into consideration in his decision on whether to remain in Congress.
Hoyer added that even though Jefferson has not been convicted of anything, “members are held to a higher standard than the public” is, regardless of judging guilt or innocence, and the charges leveled against Jefferson are hefty.
Hoyer on Tuesday said the charges against Jefferson, “if proven true, should lead to the expulsion of the member in question.”
This is good news for the country. Any time a corrupt politician is drummed out of office – and Jefferson certainly will be – the nation is made just a little bit stronger, regardless of what party he or she hails from.
In a week in which Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s ex-chief of staff, was sentenced to 30 months in prison for lying to investigators the move against Jefferson is more than welcome.
Not that Libby doesn’t deserve to be punished for obstructing justice. As Michael van der Galien says, “if he didn’t want to go to jail, he should have cooperated“.
And yet there is the sense that Libby is being made the fall guy for powerful Republicans, namely his former boss, while at the same time not being given the same protection as Democrats who have told similar types of untruth under oath, namely Sandy Berger and Bill Clinton.
Clinton I have some tolerance for because, president or no, he never should have been asked about his private sex life in that situation.
Berger, however, not only stole classified material and lied about it on numerous occasions, but was seen hiding the purloined documents under cover of darkness. But he did not serve a single day in prison and his fine was a paltry $10,000.
Given that, I don’t see justice being done in the Libby case. However, Jefferson will prove to be a different matter, I am certain.