Ken Silverstein at Harpers.org provides a look back at a career that looks to be coming to a premature close, that of Rep. William Jefferson's (D-LA) job as a water carrier for Chevron. Here is one example of the "Congressman from Chevron's" many actions:
In the mid-1990s, Chevron and several other oil companies led a successful campaign to block tough sanctions on the regime of Nigerian general Sani Abacha, who had a habit of stringing up his political enemies, and who also plundered the Nigerian treasury to the tune of about $1 billion a year during his five-year rule. The oil companies helped to produce a lobbying brochure that lauded the special quality of Nigerian crude and said that "any disruption to this supply of imported petroleum will severely impact the American economy.” Jefferson was one of only two members of the Congressional Black Caucus who opposed sanctions on the Abacha dictatorship.According to Opensecrets.org Jefferson's third largest contributor for his career is the lobby shop representing ChevronTexaco Jones, Walker. They have given Jefferson $47,379 since 1993. Continue reading
- Roll Call reports that the House Republican caucus remains "noncommital" on whether to push Bob Ney (R-OH) to resign if he is indicted on charges related to the Jack Abramoff bribery case. Just two days ago Ney's former chief of staff Neil Volz pled guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery among other charges.
- While House Republicans are weighing their options with Ney they are urging Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to pull Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) from the Appropriations Committee. Mollohan has been under fire for his earmarking of money to campaign contributors and nonprofits that he formed. He recently stepped down from his position as ranking member of the House Ethics Committee due to these allegations.
- USA Today reports that the ethics troubles of Democrats, including Rep. Mollohan, are having a dulling effect on the party's attempt to tar the Republicans as a party with a "culture of corruption." Other Democratic ethics woes include the advancing bribery probe of Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and rehashed allegations against Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) for using his staffers as babysitters and tutors.
The Washington Post reports that a Northern Virginia investor wore a wire while meeting with Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) as part of a federal bribery investigation. The information is derived from the release of a court order by the U.S. District Court of the District of Maryland:
The woman also recorded telephone conversations, as did the FBI through court-authorized wiretaps, the document said. The woman is identified only as a "cooperating witness" in the document, but people familiar with the case previously have identified her as Lori Mody, 42.Making Jefferson's situation even more precarious is the decision by the judge to release an affidavit "for a search warrant executed Aug. 3 at the Potomac home of Jennifer Douglas, a wife of Nigerian Vice President Atiku Abubaker." According to the Post:
The judge ruled that the affidavit would be unsealed Thursday unless someone appeals his ruling. The Washington Post had filed a motion to unseal the affidavit. Jefferson's attorneys opposed it, saying the release would "taint him for life and the harm done will not be remedied by the decision of a grand jury not to indict."Paul Kiel at TPM Muckraker has more information including the potential charges being considered against Jefferson: bribery of a public official, bribery of a foreign official, two fraud charges, and a conspiracy charge. The prosecution is in the end stages of the investigation as they "did not contest the unsealing of the affidavit, admitting that they had nothing to fear from its being made public. The investigation "is no longer in its preliminary stages," prosecutors wrote, adding "any danger that the government's access to potential witnesses might be affected by the unsealing of the affidavit is minimal, if existent at all." Looks like the end of the line for Jefferson. Continue reading
- Florida Today asks Rep. Dave Weldon (R-FL) why he won't "disclose his funding requests for the coming year". Weldon has been criticized for his earmarking of funds to a company, Map Roi, with ties to a Tom DeLay crony and Jack Abramoff associate Ed Buckham.
- According to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) is losing support among Democrats after he was implicated in a second guilty plea in a federal bribery investigation. Both House Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Steny Hoyer (D-MD), called for an ethics investigation of the embattled lawmaker.
- The Boston Globe reports on limiting donations to political charities, which can often serve as another way for lobbyists or favor-seekers to curry favor with lawmakers. Continue reading
- Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) likes to spend his campaign cash on himself, according to Harpers.org. Over the past eight years Weldon has spent $80,000 of his campaign funds on meals, $30,000 on hotels, purchased a personal computer, and went to a number of spas, to name just a few of Weldon's indulgences.
- Ken Silverstein also has more (see updates) at Harpers.org on Shirlington Limousines, the limousine company that allegedly delivered members of Congress, defense and CIA officials, and prostitutes to "hospitality suites". TPM Muckraker has more updates on this "play for pay" scandal. You can read it here, here, and here. Josh Marshall also has more here.
- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called on the House Ethics Committee to investigate Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) after a second associate of Jefferson's pled guilty yesterday, according to MyDD. Of course, a member of Congress has to refer Jefferson to the ethics committee since outside complaints are not allowed to be considered anymore. Somebody? Anybody? (crickets chirping)
- Out of touch Representative of the day: Mary Bono (R-CA). (from Raw Story)
Federal law enforcement officials said Jefferson could be indicted as early as next month, and that others were likely to be snared in the investigation. Federal agents raided Jefferson's home and office in August, reportedly seizing a large am Continue reading
Aside from Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) there are two other notable congressmen with legal defense funds: Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) and Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). The Columbus Dispatch reported today on the bankrollers of Bob Ney's defense fund:
The majority of Rep. Bob Ney’s relatively modest legal-defense fund has been bankrolled by members of the Boich family, which owns an Ohio coal conglomerate. The Licking County Republican, under federal investigation for his ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, took in $40,000 during the first quarter to his legal fund, according to the report submitted late Monday. Of that amount, $25,000 was given by members of the Boich family or Boich companies. Another $5,000 came from the Laborer’s Political League in Washington, and $10,000 was given by individuals from Akron and Miami.Meanwhile, Political Money Line has reported on Jefferson's defense fund:
The Congressman William Jefferson Legal Trust Fund filed its first quarter 2006 report indicating it had raised $34,500 and spent $16,082. Donors included $5,000 each from Connell Co (NJ, Debra L. Lee (DC), Robert L. Johnson (CT), C&S Consultants (LA), Lisa Green Campbell (LA), among others. The Trust paid Smith & Fawer (LA) $6,082; Robert Trout (DC) $10,000; and Trout & Cacheris (DC) $20,000. In the previous quarter the Trust raised $84,750 and spent $65,000. Payments included $55,000 to Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hall and $10,000 to Smith & Fawer.Continue reading
The investigation into alleged bribery involving Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and a technology firm is closing in on the congressman. According to the Associated Press, Vernon Jackson, the chief executive of the technology firm iGate alleged to have bribed Rep. Jefferson, is scheduled to appear in court today and is likely to plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to bribe. Jackson would be the second person to plead guilty in this bribery case. A former aide to Jefferson, Brent Pfeffer, pled guilty in January and accused a congressman - later revealed to be Jefferson - of demanding "bribes in exchange for his assistance in brokering two African telecommunications deals."Continue reading
- House Republicans stripped 527-reform out of a proposed lobbying reform bill, according to The Hill.
- In a sign of the seriousness of the case against him, Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), under investigation for alleged bribery in an African telecommunications deal, is selling his Capitol Hill house, according to Roll Call.
- Speaking of selling houses, the Washington Post reports that Rep. Jim Ryun is denying that he got a sweetheart deal when the U.S. Family Network sold him their Capitol Hill house at well below market value.
- Knight Ridder reports that the Pentagon has investigated itself for spending money “like Paris Hilton at a shoe sale” and found its “prime vendor” purchasing program “sound, even though it overpaid millions of dollars for common kitchen items.” The program “paid $20 a piece for plastic ice cube trays that previously had cost 89 cents and $81 each for coffee makers that it bought for years for $29.”