House Dems Strip Jefferson of Panel Seat


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Desertdog
June 16, 2006, 09:57 AM
House Dems Strip Jefferson of Panel Seat
http://www.breitbart.com/news/2006/06/16/D8I9AUVG0.html

By DAVID ESPO
AP Special Correspondent

Add political banishment to the list of problems confronting Rep. William Jefferson, ensnared in a bribery scandal that fellow Democrats hope to turn to their election-year advantage.

"Democrats are determined to hold a high ethical standard," the party's leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, said Thursday night after engineering a 99-58 vote of the rank and file that stripped Jefferson of his seat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

"This isn't about proof in the court of law. This is about an ethical standard," Pelosi said. "I wish that the White House would do the same."

Democrats long have accused Republicans of nourishing a "culture of corruption" in Congress, and signaled their desire to make ethics a key issue in their drive to win control of the House in the November elections.

The vote came despite a final plea from Jefferson and persistent complaints from members of the Congressional Black Caucus, which said the Louisianan was being sanctioned without a rule or a precedent to justify it.

For his part, Jefferson conceded to reporters he faced "serious allegations" in connection with an investigation that has netted two convictions. The congressman maintains his innocence and has not been indicted, although the FBI says it found $90,000 in bribe money several months ago stashed in a food freezer in his home.

With the action of the Democratic caucus subject to ratification by the full House, Jefferson publicly left open for the first time that he might be willing to give up his committee seat voluntarily.

"I don't want to speculate," he said.

Within an hour of the vote, Jefferson disclosed he had offered on Wednesday to step aside on two conditions. They were that the caucus establish a rule covering cases like his and that his seat on Ways and Means go temporarily to a fellow Louisiana Democrat, Rep. Charles Melancon.

Pelosi, who controlled the votes to prevail in a showdown, declined the offer.

"So it was her decision to expose the rift in this caucus and to move forward with this unjust action," Jefferson said in a statement.

The vote in a closed-door meeting of Democrats marked the culmination of Pelosi's effort to stake out the high election-year ground on ethics.

The issue was a difficult one for many Democrats, and some members of the black caucus have privately appealed to Jefferson in recent weeks to step aside voluntarily.

Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, a member of the Democratic leadership as well as the black caucus, said the rank and file had confronted "two competing interests _ the legal interest and the political interest."

While the vote was not close, it also underscored the concern among Democrats that Jefferson was being sanctioned arbitrarily.

The chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, Rep. Melvin Watt of North Carolina, said after the vote that by taking the action they did, fellow Democrats chose "political expediency" or some other unacceptable factor over precedent. "Even at the end of the meeting, we don't know what the standard has been," he said.

Watt said that constituents of some lawmakers will adopt the view that race was a factor in the decision. "I think there are people who will say that's the basis," he said. Blacks are among the Democrats' most loyal voters.

Democrats earlier in the evening rejected a call to sidetrack the proceedings until a rule had been adopted to cover situations like Jefferson's. Rep. Steven Rothman, D-N.J., said he sought the step because without rules, the action was "extraordinarily arbitrary."

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1 old 0311
June 16, 2006, 02:33 PM
Gee I thought the GOP had the market cornered on corruption. Good to see graft is now bipartisan.:evil: :evil:

Kevin

Battler
June 16, 2006, 03:01 PM
All Delay has against him is a DA willing to pursue a failed prosecution (it'll go away after the election).

All Jefferson has against him is 90K in the freezer.

One of them is in legal trouble, the other is just in for a smearing. Delay's crime is being a really powerful speaker of the house.

Desertdog
June 16, 2006, 04:43 PM
All Jefferson has against him is 90K in the freezer.
And a video tape showing him taking a $100,000 bribe from somebody and three people that have plead guilty in court to bribing Jefferson.:rolleyes:

DonP
June 16, 2006, 05:04 PM
The Congressional Black Caucus protested vehemently earlier last week that removing Jefferson (D) from his committee assignments would be racist since he hasn't been convicted of anything yet.

(The $90,000 in his freezer, the videotape and those FBI witnesses may all be GOP plants anyway, right?)

Pelosi, Emanuel and the Democrat leadership in the congress basically told them to sit down and shut up.

It's hard for Pelosi and Rahm Emanuel to run the '06 congressional campiaigns on "the Culture of Corruption" in the GOP when Rove wasn't indicted, the Delay thing is fading fast and you may have one of your own high profile guys being frog marched out of the House building in the middle of the campaign this fall.

Art Eatman
June 16, 2006, 05:23 PM
OT

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