What should the Democrats do about Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)? Today's Washington Post seems to hold
Nancy Pelosi's final answer.
Last year, of course, Nancy Pelosi, backed by a majority vote from the Democratic caucus, yanked Jefferson off of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. But now that New Orleans-area voters have spoken with one voice that they don't mind if their rep keeps thousands of dollars of intended bribe money in his freezer, the Congressional Black Caucus has been pressuring Pelosi to reinstate Jefferson.
quotes "a source close to Pelosi" as saying that she won't reinstate his powerful seat, but won't shut him out altogether. He'll get a spot on "a lower-profile committee" instead. Compromise! The source adds that Pelosi hopes "the controversy dies down" with such a solution.
Fat chance. For months, Jefferson has been on the cusp of indictment for bribery charges. The only thing that's saved him was the FBI's raid of his congressional office, which, because it involved the seizure of possibly Constitutionally protected materials, ignited a litigation battle that still rages on. Until that gets sorted out, there will likely be no indictment. And when will that be? The Post
piece does some inside baseball figuring as to what the prosecutors options are -- but the bottom line is the indictment will come down "probably in the first half of 2007." Meanwhile, prosecutors continue to fatten their case against Jefferson: the Post
reports that they're "looking at about a dozen business deals in the United States and Africa in which Jefferson allegedly used his official position for financial gain." About a dozen? Not so long ago, it was in the neighborhood of eight
When that indictment comes down, of course, the controversy will fire back up again. And Jefferson's been very clear
that he won't be stepping down when that happens. We may very well have a trial of a sitting congressman.