Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Fais do-do (or pass the dough )

Part of the reason New Orleans, and indeed Louisiana, where natural resources and riches are so plentiful, resides in the developing world is the same reason so many countries south of our borders and elsewhere do. It's because of the graft and immoral greed of the people placed in charge. Rep. William Jefferson follows a long history of just such leaders in Louisiana.

I won't recount yet again my many anecdotes from the time I lived in New Orleans, where residents talked about their corrupt leaders with a wink and a smile, as I've done that here before. But it's hard to passionately make arguments that we need to rescue that precious place, when voters there continue to elect people like this guy. It's not like this information wasn't available and well-known before November of last year, and yet they sent him right back to Washington.

Sometimes I feel about Louisiana the way I felt about the crumbling city of Washington, DC, that continued cycle after cycle to re-elect Marion Barry, the poster child for all that is wrong with politics in the country today. I hope Mr. Jefferson will get to enjoy Angola, the notorious Louisiana state prison, and not be shoved off to some cushier, federal institution, if and when he's finally held accountable for his deeds.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was indicted Monday on federal charges of racketeering, soliciting bribes and money-laundering in a long-running bribery investigation into business deals he tried to broker in Africa.

The indictment handed up in federal court in Alexandria., Va., Monday is 94 pages long and lists 16 alleged violations of federal law that could keep Jefferson in prison for up to 235 years. He is charged with racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

Jefferson is accused of soliciting bribes for himself and his family, and also for bribing a Nigerian official.

Almost two years ago, in August 2005, investigators raided Jefferson's home in Louisiana and found $90,000 in cash stuffed into a box in his freezer.

Jefferson, 63, whose Louisiana district includes New Orleans, has said little about the case publicly but has maintained his innocence. He was re-elected last year despite the looming investigation.


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