If you pick up a copy of the Sunday Washington Post, you would have to flip back to page 5 to find six short paragraphs about yet more trouble for Louisiana Democratic congressman William Jefferson. When we last joined our hero, Federal investigators were breaking into his basement to find tens of thousands of dollars in his freezer wrapped up in tin foil. Reports began to trickle in that Mr. Jefferson had been trading his congressional influence for cash in a few areas. Now there's even more.
Federal prosecutors on Friday accused Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.) of soliciting bribes in two
alleged schemes that had not been previously disclosed.
The allegations, detailed in a seven-page document filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, will not result in new charges, prosecutors said, but they plan to present them during Jefferson's federal bribery trial as evidence of a pattern of intentional wrongdoing.
In 2002, the government alleges, Jefferson asked a lobbyist of a U.S. oil service company for $10,000 a month for a family member in exchange for Jefferson's assisting the company in promoting business in Africa. The lobbyist turned down Jefferson's request, the document said.
Three years later, according to the filing, Jefferson allegedly agreed to urge NASA in a letter to consider doing business with a U.S. rocket technology and rocket launch services company. In exchange, the company allegedly agreed to pay Jefferson's family business and a relative.
If the Democratic party wants to run again in 2008 on the "culture of corruption" they need to clean up their own scandals first. While there have certainly been more than a few bits of malfeasance on the part of the GOP, the deafening silence from the Democratic leadership on Jefferson's affairs simply contaminates the rest of the bunch moving toward this election cycle. True, Jefferson is only accused and has not been convicted of anything yet, but the evidence thus far is pretty damning. If they can't force him to step aside while the legal process plays out, Nancy Pelosi should at least make a public statement distancing herself and her party from Jefferson's dubious activities.
The "culture of corruption" is real, but it's not something specific to the GOP. We've got rotten fish laying all over the Hill and only the voters have the power to hose the place down.