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Friday, June 16, 2006

 

Nancy Pelosi’s Quandary

By Nathan Tabor

Ladies and gentlemen, Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) has left the building!

Well, not really, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has managed to set up the removal of Jefferson from the powerful Ways & Means Committee with a 99-58 vote from the House Democratic Caucus. The action still needs to move to the House floor and be ratified before Jefferson gets the proverbial boot.

The Louisiana Representative was recently caught on video by an F.B.I. sting taking $100,000 in bribe money, $90,000 of it recovered from the Congressman’s freezer in his Washington home.

Jefferson’s “situation” has put Democrats, especially Pelosi, in a political quandary. The Democrats have been pushing the idea that Republicans are wallowing in corruption, highlighting lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s connections to Republican congressmen while ignoring his ties to leading Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV).

Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX), who has been charged with money laundering, recently resigned from the House under the cloud of an indictment. But Jefferson, not indicted, but caught on video accepting a bribe, has so far refused to step down. A former aid to the congressman and a businessman who admitted paying bribes to the lawmaker, have already pleaded guilty in the ongoing bribery probe, which adds to the Democrats’ embarrassment.

To further Rep. Pelosi’s problems with her crumbling “culture of corruption” attack on Republicans is the defensive posture now taken by the 43 members of the Congressional Black Caucus – all Democrats -- and their insistence that Jefferson be treated with a presumption of innocence. But in the political arena of Washington, public perception is more important than Congressional protocol, forcing the House Minority Leader to take a stand against the political leaders of the all-important African-American vote, a Democratic mainstay.

It’s always interesting when Democrats eat their own. Stay tuned.
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