So, Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) will not resign his office, has declared the allegations "outrageous", and says that, while there are two sides to the story here, now is not the time to give that other side. Well, like James Carville and Dana Milbank, I'd like to know what that other side is. Seriously, you were videotaped by the FBI taking $100,000 in cash from an FBI agent as a bribe and then the FBI found $90,000 of that cash in your freezer. Now, Milbank in today's Washington Post gives even more detail to the FBI sting:
He said it would be "extraordinarily foolhardy" to talk about the case. But, then again, it would not be the only foolhardy thing Jefferson had done lately. Didn't he know that the Pentagon City complex where he was stung was an FBI favorite? Both Monica Lewinsky and Pentagon official Larry Franklin (of the AIPAC espionage affair) were undone by agents in the same place Jefferson put the $100,000 in his Lincoln Town Car while "video taped by the FBI from several vantage points."And now the congressman is claiming that the separation of powers has been violated in the search of his congressional office. Sorry congressman, but it's not the time for indignant statements about the Constitution. It's time to resign. And for all the other members of Congress who are claiming that this is some intrusion on the separation of powers I will let Justin Rood put you in your place:
Wow. After sitting largely silent for more than five years of assaults against citizens' constitutional rights, our legislators have been moved to protect the Constitution because one of their own -- a man who meets contacts in hotel parking lots to accept briefcases full of money, and actually kept $90,000 in cash bundled in his freezer -- had his offices searched by the FBI.Unbelievable. What ever happened to "law and order" politicians? A sitting Congressman acts like a drug smuggler and then the FBI gets attacked after they treat him how they have been told to treat alleged criminals. Congress has been dishing out criminal justice legislation that supports these kind of heavy handed techniques that are aimed at deterrence of future crimes and now it gets turned on them and they can't take it. Boo hoo. Jefferson's lucky he was just involved in an international bribery scheme that involves corrupting a public office and violating the public trust, further tarring the political process in the eyes of many Americans. If he was doing drugs he'd have been carried off to jail along with his belongings, which would then be sold at a profit for the police. Continue reading
From Political Wire:
"I have been racking my brain all day and calling people, wanting to know what could be the other side of the story for a congressman having $90,000 of cash in his freezer. And the collective wisdom of my friends have not been able to come up with anything. But if he can come up with a reason for this, I'm waiting here, man. I want to hear it, because I can't think of it." -- Democratic strategist James Carville, on CNN, discussing the bribery probe of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA).Continue reading
In Washington people are always dealing in information, money, and secrets. Sometimes you need to peddle information to get a seat at the table or to help write bills for your lobbying clients. Other times you need to throw money around, ingratiate yourself with the locals and take them out to a skybox and watch Gilbert Arenas score 40 points. Throw a fund raiser for your favorite legislator (i.e.: the guy who's vote you need to switch). How else are you going to stop that bill that would help millions of people but hurt your client? Usually you tout these accomplishments and get patted on the back. But sometimes, you do something that you don't want anyone to know about and you need to hide your information, or your money, somewhere. Anywhere. Where do you hide it? Well, we gathered up a group of Washington insiders with first hand experience in hiding stuff and asked them how they would go about hiding money or information in Washington (follow the link):
The news that FBI agents found some $90,000 in cash paid to Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., wrapped in tinfoil and secreted in the refrigerator of his Washington-area home, suggests a disturbing lack of financial acumen. In the 1970s, sources told Alan Block, author of Masters of Paradise: Organized Crime and the Internal Revenue Service in the Bahamas, that Castle Bank & Trust numbered Watergate conspirators and big Nixon campaign contributors among those who used its untraceable accounts. One investigator told Block about a document that suggested that perhaps then-President Nixon himself may have had money secreted away in the tax haven.Continue reading
Roll Call reported yesterday on the FBI raid on Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) congressional office. What stands out in the Roll Call article is this short paragraph:
But the Justice Department and FBI agents are also looking at “at least seven other schemes in which Congressman Jefferson sought things of value” in return for official acts, the affidavit states. That suggests that additional avenues for prosecuting Jefferson could be revealed soon.Apparently this iGate-Nigeria deal is not the first in which Jefferson may have abused his position for personal financial gain. What could these other deals be? When they are all accounted for will Jefferson have deposed Duke Cunningham as the king of congressional corruption? Continue reading
For someone who’s tracked money in congressional politics for nearly 20 years, the prospect of witnessing bribery proceedings against two members of Congress within a six-month period – one Republican and one Democrat – is nothing short of breathtaking.
True, I didn’t come on the scene until after the Abscam scandal had come and gone, producing bribery convictions in 1980 for one senator and five congressman. But out-and-out bribery cases really don’t happen that often on Capitol Hill – which is why this past weekend’s revelations about New Orleans Democratic Congressman William Jefferson wound up on page one of newspapers across the country.Continue reading
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. Continue reading
On Wednesday, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was launching two probes into lawmakers and a third probe wide-ranging probe into possible violations by staffers and other lawmakers in the Duke Cunningham scandal. However, these probes may interfere with the current investigations that the FBI and Department of Justice Public Integrity Unit have underway. The Washington Post looks at whether the Ethics Committee is too late to the game:
The Justice Department has traditionally opposed such parallel inquiries by congressional committees for fear that lawmakers might complicate its collection of testimony and information. The Senate's ethics panel, for instance, regularly steps aside when another enforcement agency is looking into the behavior of senators. But House officials indicated yesterday that they hope the continuing conversations between the Justice Department and the ethics committee will avert conflicts. A spokesman for the department declined to comment.It is doubtful that the Justice Department is happy about this development. Previously, Justice had asked the House and Senate Ethics Committees to steer clear of any investagtion relating to Jack Abramoff. The House's investigation into Bob Ney, who is alleged to have accepted things of value from Abramoff in exchange for favorable action, clearly goes against Justice's recommendations. A March article in Roll Call notes that the ethics committee's rule 15(f) states that the committee "may defer action on a complaint against a Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives when the complaint alleges conduct that the Committee has reason to believe is being reviewed by appropriate law enforcement or regulatory authorities, or when the Committee determines that it is appropriate for the conduct alleged in the complaint to be reviewed initially by law enforcement or regulatory authorities." An expert interviewed in the Post article states, "I can't imagine that they will pursue subpoenas and testimony and get in the way of the Justice Department; that hasn't happened in the past." Continue reading
After 16 months of deadlock and inaction the House Ethics Committee has launched two investigations into members of the House, according to the Washington Post. The Ethics Committee has agreed to look into the cases of Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), alleged to have taken bribes from Jack Abramoff in return for favorable action, and Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), who is alleged to have solicited bribes in an international telecommunications deal. The panel refused to hear the case of the retiring former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), who has already been indicted in Texas on money laundering charges and has been closely tied to Jack Abramoff since the mid-90s. The gridlock on the panel actually began due to three admonishments of DeLay in 2004. After the third admonishment Speaker Dennis Hastert and DeLay purged the panel's Republicans, installing DeLay supporters who aggravated the Democrats on the panel by attempting to change the rules on how the ethics process worked. The deadlock ended when the ranking Democrat Alan Mollohan (D-WV) stepped down after he was alleged to have misstated his personal finances and used federal earmarks to enrich himself. The current ranking Democrat is Howard Berman (D-CA) and the chairman is Doc Hastings (R-WA).Continue reading
- Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), under fire for allegedly soliciting bribes in a telecommunications deal, defiantly declared that he will not resign, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Jefferson, who has been named in two plea deals, made this statement, "No one wants to be indicted. I certainly do not and I certainly do not want anyone -- a family member or a close associate -- to be indicted. But I am prepared to answer these charges formally when and if the time comes. . . . I would take full responsibility for any crime that I committed, if that were the case. But I will not plead guilty to something I did not do, no matter how things are made to look and no matter the risk."
- The House Ethics Committee has announced an interim plan to review private travel for members and staff. The plan would involve voluntary cooperation by the persons or groups paying for the travel. These persons could, if they wanted, receive certification for the trip by providing the names of all persons on the trip, including relatives of the lawmaker or staffer; a detailed description of the trip, including an itinerary and agenda; a description of all travel expenses and the source of all expenses; a representation that none of the expenses were covered by a registered lobbyist, lobbying firm, or foreign agent. The Ethics Committee has made no declaration as to whether these documents would be available for public consumption.
- The Wall Street Journal reports that anonymous earmarks continue to be written despite the enormous amount of negative attention they have received in the past six months.