William Jefferson Scandal Taints Entire Democratic Party

Matt Margolis & Mark Noonan
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Posted: Jun 08, 2007 3:32 PM
William Jefferson Scandal Taints Entire Democratic Party

There is perhaps no better example of the fraudulent nature of the Democrats ethical posturing than that of Rep. William Jefferson, who after more than two years of being the target of a federal investigation was finally indicted on Monday. The 16-count indictment includes charges of racketeering, soliciting bribes, money laundering, obstruction of justice, corruption, and conspiracy. The scandal should have major repercussions for the entire Democratic Party, which largely ignored scandal during the 2006 campaign, then afterwards rewarded and protected Jefferson up to the day he was indicted.

The charges against Jefferson are far worse than any allegations made against Tom DeLay, as well as the crimes committed by Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) and Bob Ney (R-OH) combined. If convicted on all 16 charges, Jefferson faces over 200 years in prison. During the 2006 campaign, Nancy Pelosi was quick to say that even a hint of GOP scandal was evidence of widespread corruption in the entire Republican Party. However, in the case of Jefferson, not only could Nancy Pelosi not be made to act in the interests of the American people, but she couldn’t even find any words of condemnation for Jefferson.

Democrats would like everyone to believe that the Jefferson scandal as an isolated incident involving one member of their party who had gone wrong. While Jefferson’s illegal actions are his own doing, the fact that Democrats routinely turn a blind eye to their own scandals enabled Jefferson to commit his crimes over a very long period of time. While the FBI found a $90,000.00 bribe in Jefferson’s freezer in August of 2005, it took an Associated Press report on the existence of videotaped evidence of Jefferson accepting a bribe to force Democrats to act. Democrats finally stripped Jefferson of his committee assignment in June of 2006. As more and more details of the Jefferson scandal came to light, Democratic eyes were ever more tightly shut against reality – and a Democrat-friendly Main Stream Media (MSM) ensured that the American people would only hear of Republican scandals in 2006.

With Democrats making ethics the centerpiece of their campaign, the political environment in 2006 should have made it impossible for any embattled Congressman to get reelected. However, while many tainted Republicans were defeated in November, Jefferson (and other embattled Democrats) were reelected. And to top it off, Jefferson was given a standing ovation by the House Democratic Caucus on his return to Congress in January.

With the election over, Speaker Pelosi, adding insult to injury, picked Jefferson to sit on the sensitive House Homeland Security Committee. Strangely, the appointment received unanimous approval from the House Democratic Caucus. It took pressure from House Republicans to prevent Jefferson‘s placement on the highly sensitive committee.

In spite of this mounting evidence against Jefferson and her promise to the American people to lead the most open, honest and ethical Congress in history Nancy Pelosi chose to protect Jefferson by effectively shutting down an ongoing ethics investigation into the scandal by refusing to appoint ten Democrats to serve on the 20-member bipartisan ethics “pool.” By “coincidence”, she finally made the appointments... the day after Jefferson’s indictment. House Republican Leader John Boehner had 10 Republicans selected in January.

The Democrats actions (or lack thereof) prior to Jefferson’s indictment speak for themselves. But, now that Jefferson has been indicted, what will the open, honest and ethical Democrats do with the thousands of dollars in contributions they received from William Jefferson? Following Tom DeLay’s indictment, the DCCC, then chaired by Rep. Rahm Emanuel, launched a campaign to pressure House Republicans to return contributions linked to Tom DeLay and his political action committee.

Earlier this week, the Majority Accountability Project (majorityap.com) reported, “Jefferson donated nearly $140,000 to the Democrats’ campaign committee. Jefferson also gave thousands to Democrat House members and candidates,” and his political action committee made several $1,000 donations to several House Democrats. Will Emanuel, now chairman of the Democratic Caucus, or Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the new DCCC Chairman, practice what they preached and lead the way in making sure that everyone who received Jefferson’s tainted contributions return them or donate the money to charity? Considering their longstanding hypocrisy on ethics and corruption, there is no reason to believe Democrats will hold themselves to the same standard they held Republicans.

A jury will ultimately determine Jefferson’s fate, but the Party of Nancy Pelosi and William Jefferson must take a long, hard look at itself. While we will never get to a point where there is no corruption in politics, we should at least hold all politicians to the same high standard, and demand that they all pay a high price for when they violate the public’s trust. Let’s hope the indictment of William Jefferson marks a new era which will see Democrats finally being held accountable, and holding themselves accountable, for corruption. This is something they have managed avoid for a long time but it is never too late to start doing the right thing for the American people.