Rep. William Jefferson, you're a black man. I wanted to give you the benefit of the doubt. I remember how the Reagan Administration systematically targeted Democratic black elected officials for undue scrutiny on sometimes trumped-up charges. I was hoping that the GOP, drowning under the rising tide of the Abramoff and Cunningham investigations, was desperately grasping at straws when the Feds went after you.
But after looking at the facts it does not look good.
First, in January Brett Pfeffer, your former legislative director, pled guilty to aiding and abetting bribery of a public official and conspiracy. And then on Wednesday, according to the Washington Post, "Vernon Jackson, chief executive of the Louisville, Ky.-based telecommunications firm iGate Inc., admitted to bribery of a public official and conspiracy to bribe a public official."
Jackson says you helped him broker some big telecom deals in Africa and then shook him down for between $400,000 and a million bucks. If true, what the hell were you thinking? Why were you so greedy and so stupid? You could have bided your time and made that same money the old-fashioned way. You could have retired from Congress and become a lobbyist.
Democrats are fighting to retake this listing ship of state and highlighting the systemic Republican corruption of the K Street project and the Abramoff empire are powerful weapons in that arsenal. Jefferson's (alleged) selfish, short-sighted greed is treason to the cause, and treason to the already beleaguered citizens of New Orleans whom he represents.
Mr. Jackson is looking at twenty years in prison. How many years do you think you'll be serving, Mr. Jefferson?