Sunday, May 21, 2006

Take the Money and Run

Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA) is in serious trouble. He's been caught on tape taking the money and running.

To the tune of $100,000.
A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer.

At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company's deal for work in Africa.

As Jefferson and the informant passed notes about what percentage the lawmaker's family might receive, the congressman "began laughing and said, 'All these damn notes we're writing to each other as if we're talking, as if the FBI is watching,'" according to the affidavit.

Jefferson, who represents New Orleans, has not been charged and denies any wrongdoing.

As for the $100,000, the government says Jefferson got the money in a leather briefcase last July 30 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington. The plan was for the lawmaker to use the cash to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian official _ the name is blacked out in the court document _ to ensure the success of a business deal in that country, the affidavit said.
I would hasten to add that he hasn't been charged yet. He hasn't been indicted yet. The FBI and other law enforcement are still collecting evidence from Jefferson's home, offices, and other locations.

And yet, a bunch of the money was found stuffed in Jefferson's freezer. Yes, that's where I stash all my legitimately earned money.
Two of Jefferson's associates have pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges in federal court in Alexandria. One, businessman Vernon Jackson of Louisville, Ky., admitted paying more than $400,000 in bribes to the lawmaker in exchange for his help securing business deals for Jackson's telecommunications company in Nigeria and other African countries.
Memeorandum has a roundup of opinion.

Macranger thinks a storm is coming, and he's not talking about the X-Men movie coming out on Friday. And while Macranger notes that Jefferson might be considered a representative sample of a crooked Louisiana politician, he forgets that there are also questions over the slow disbursement of hurricane aid by the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation (CBCF), which raised more than $400,000 in Katrina relief aid, and when it did distribute the money gave it to Jefferson's own cronies. Jefferson was chair of the organization.

AJ Strata scoffs at the Democrats claims that the GOP engages in a culture of corruption when the mirror reveals Democrats engaging in many of the same behaviors.

The White Collar Crime Prof Blog looks at why the FBI engaged in a search instead of a subpoena in order to collect documentary evidence.

Ed Morrissey notes that there may be a link between the current investigation and his misappropriation of National Guard assets to gain access to his home and remove belongings.

Vodkapundit notes that life takes after spam.

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