Monday, May 22, 2006

The Jefferson: A Piece Of The Pie Hole

Rep. William Jefferson, (Democrat-LA) has apparently been found with his hand in the cookie jar—better make that a mouthful of pie, with evidence smeared around his greedy lips. It doesn’t look like he’ll be “movin’ on up” anymore.

The Daily Muck has plenty of details on how this public servant has been serving himself in private.

There’s little comfort in knowing that Jefferson’s corruption (if proven, and the evidence offered so far sounds damning) is nowhere near the level and scale of Abramoff and it remains to be seen whether it approaches that of Duke Cunningham’s ( which it still may).

Sure there’s plenty of comedy to be had from his sheer incompetence in hiding $90,000 cash in the fridge (greens go in the crisper, not the freezer), but then again he didn’t major in Home Economics; his specialty was the law—he used to be a JAG, he’s a Harvard Law School graduate and he’s a law firm partner.
Oh yeah, and he’s one of those guys who gets to write the laws that the rest of us are supposed to abide by.

He has spent a good deal of time speechifying about Katrina and FEMA naturally, but apparently he’s been under investigation by the FBI (since March 2005 at least).
Interviewed by Paula Zahn of CNN on 9/14/2005 (not the most professional of reporters IMHOP) Jefferson caught some quite (though not completely) unfair shit from her about visiting his house in the aftermath thanks to government resources (everyone was doing it). But she did ask a very pointed question:

ZAHN: Congressman, one final question for you tonight. You are, of course, as we mentioned in the preceding piece, the subject of a federal investigation. Your home in Washington had been searched before, your home in New Orleans. Was there anything in that house that you were trying to get out that was critical to this ongoing FBI investigation?

JEFFERSON: I would doubt that.The thing that I wanted to get out was my daughter's laptop computer and my daughter's suitcase that I took away. The FBI had been in my house, as you know, for seven, eight hours. Whatever was there, they got it. I had been living in my house for three weeks after they came. If there was anything in there, I could have taken it then. There was no reason to go in there to retrieve anything related to the investigation. This is all NRCC smear they're putting out, which is quite a shame

The “smear” defense is an easy excuse, playing to the notion that the Republicans are masters at it. Whilst that is I think true, Jefferson doesn’t back up the claim (conveniently he’d run out of time!). He also said very reasonably that the FBI had plenty of time to find anything incriminating for a period of weeks (and they’d certainly have the power and the smarts to subpoena his daughter’s laptop). But he also said he would already have removed evidence ( doh!)

But his immediate response to Zahn asking if there was anything he was trying to remove that might be critical to the FBI investigation was “I would doubt that”.
Surely his answer should have been no—either the truth or a lie, but anything other than I WOULD DOUBT THAT!!

There’s one other odd thing about Jefferson.
He voted for the permanent repeal of the so-called “Death Tax” on April 13 2005, ( search through his speeches starting with this Project Vote Smart link) disputing that it affected only the wealthiest and arguing that the law somehow cost more to apply than the $20-odd billion it produced annually.
I guess he was looking to the future when he’d be able to hand over his two houses and some freezers full of cash to his five daughters , because after all, doesn’t every American deserve to move on up and get a piece of the pie?

Adios pie-hole! Enjoy being Abramoff's bitch in the slammer!


Elderta said...

Louisiana politicians suck. In fact, all politicians suck. I'm in such a politician-hatin' mood right now.

5th Estate said...

elderta,,, they do seem to suck don't they? The whole lot of them. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that, unlike actual working stiffs,they get to give themselves pay increases regardless, they get to make the rules, break the rules, suffer minimum jail-time when caught, have no problems getting re-employed for as good if not more money and maintain all their health and retiremnent privileges. As Churchill almost said, "Never have so many done so much for so few"

DoctorBoogaloo said...

COLD hard cash. Yowza.

I remember watching this guy, desperate to remove stuff from his house. Like most, I thought it was fishy and wondered when we'd be hearing a little more about this esteemed member of Congress.

Seems like they all have a 'For Sale' sign on their backs.

5th Estate said...

docboogaloos: if they all looked like you with your trusty moustache the world would surely be a better place

Carl said...

Hey, he was just o/~ a-movin' on up, to the East Side, to that deeluxe apartment in the sky-y-y-yo/~

t's mom said...

Louisiana has always had strange politicians, why hell, Earl K Long shacked up with a stripper, Blaze Starr in the 60's, and before that, Richard Leche was convicted of mail fraud in 1939. That's just the tip of the jambalaya bowl.

5th Estate said...

T's mom....
I'm not sure Louisiana pols are any weirder than any other state's, though it often appears that the least urbanized/more economically challenged/more religious states produce more weirdly behavings pols ( as opposed to simply crooked ones, which all states have.

Red Tory said...

Jefferson is a disgrace to his namesake and a world-class asshole. He claims “there are two sides to every story” or some such nonsense. Well, I can hardly wait to see what the “other side of the story” is for hiding $90,000 in your freezer! Good grief, have you ever heard of anything so moronically incompetent? I remember him abusing his privilege last year to go back to his home and retrieve certain things all the while keeping the police and rescue services from doing more worthwhile things for hours on end and thinking at the time what a pathetic dork he was, but never thought to tie it to him possibly recovering stuff from his house that was more potentially damning than his daughter’s laptop (cough).

One nice thing about our system up here is that Members of Parliament who fall into disgrace like this can be kicked out of caucus; that is, banished from the party. What a pity you don’t seem to have the same option down there.

Carl said...

Oh, and now, Congressmen of BOTH stripes are making noise about the FBI raid on Jefferson's office...suddenly the separation of powers matters????

5th Estate said...

Now RT, I'm not sure your'e being's perfectly possible that all politicians have $90,000 cash in their freezers--after all who would risk investing in the US economy these days?

More seriously I personally haven't investigated whether Jefferson exploited government resources for his own ends during Katrina but it wouldn't shock me to discover your assertation as being closer to the truth than Jefferson's account. I do note that Jefferson lost one home, but not his only home to Katrina--unlike the majority of his constituents. So much for public service! Could he not have helicoptered in and then released his government assets, to be called upon later--one chopper or one truck or boat to get him out? COuld he not have stayed a while in concert with his constituents? And so on.

As to Carl's point...and other bloggers have noted this too, why indeed is a raid on a Congressmna's office, backed by probable cause, somehow possibly unconstituional where the raid on private communications and records of ordinary citizens, without probable cause, is not?

There may be a case to be made that Jefferson has been singled out for an extraordinary action , but his case higlights a few non-partisan and highly significant points: elected officials are not above the law, corruption is endemic to politics, we are ruled, not represented by idiots and there are yet some civil servants still prepared to act in the larger public interest.