In case you didn’t catch the news this weekend a number of non-descript white men entered the office of a congressman under federal investigation for a number of violations including bribery. Those men were FBI agents carrying out a search warrant by raiding Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) House office building – the first time a congressional office has been raided – and searching the office for over 17 hours. In information released as a part to the search warrant it has become clear that the federal investigation into Jefferson’s alleged solicitation of bribes in an African telecommunications deal is solid. The Washington Post:
Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), the target of a 14-month public corruption probe, was videotaped accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from a Northern Virginia investor who was wearing an FBI wire, according to a search warrant affidavit released yesterday.
A few days later, on Aug. 3, 2005, FBI agents raided Jefferson’s home in Northeast Washington and found $90,000 of the cash in the freezer, in $10,000 increments wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed inside frozen-food containers, the document said.
A woman, Lori Mody, who was a part to the deals with the African nations Nigeria and Ghana also wore a wire in her meetings with the congressman:
“All these damn notes we’re writing to each other as if we’re talking as if the FBI is watching,” he told Mody, who was wearing an FBI wire. … In another instance, Jefferson said someone, identified in court papers only as “John Doe #1,” needed money to bribe “various officials in Nigeria.”
“We got to motivate him real good,” Jefferson allegedly told Mody. “He got a lot of folks to pay off.” Later in the conversation, he says: “If he’s got to pay Minister X, we don’t want to know. It’s not our deal. We’re not paying Minister X a damn thing. That’s all, you know, international fraud crap.”
Jefferson has yet to plead to anything and insists that he is innocent and is a victim of a trumped up investigation by too eager prosecutors. The congressman from New Orleans refuses to resign his seat if he is indicted and plans on fighting the charges. However, if what we see from these telephone conversations and video are true Jefferson will go down as one of the most blatantly corrupt congressmen in recent history. These tapes are so offensive that even if he were to fight the charges it is doubtful that the people of New Orleans, who are in need of honest and strong leadership in Congress, will send this man back to Washington come November.