Wednesday, June 07, 2006


More On Jefferson's Corruption

As the voters in CA-50 put the corruption of Randy Cunningham behind them, the voters of William Jefferson's district got more information on his sellout. The New York Times reports that the FBI has acquired documentary evidence of bribery regarding Jefferson's efforts on behalf of a foreign power, albeit in a strange reversal:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the Maryland home of the vice president of Nigeria last summer in search of bribe money that the bureau believed had been paid to him by Representative William Jefferson, according to documents released on Tuesday.

The documents included an affidavit signed by an F.B.I. agent who said that the Nigerian vice president, Atiku Abubakar, now a candidate for president of that oil-rich West African nation, asked for at least half of the profits of a technology company controlled by Mr. Jefferson that was seeking to do business in Nigeria.

About the same time last year, the documents said, Mr. Jefferson told colleagues of his plans to bribe Nigerian officials, including Mr. Abubakar, in exchange for their help in winning business in Nigeria, and that Mr. Abubakar would be paid as much as $500,000 in cash.

The F.B.I. affidavit, which was dated Aug. 2, and other documents were made public over the objections of Mr. Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat who is the target of a wide-ranging corruption investigation. He has denied wrongdoing and has said the information in the court papers would unfairly damage his reputation.

In the affidavit, an F.B.I. agent, Edward S. Cooper, said cellphone records suggested that Mr. Jefferson visited a home owned by Mr. Abubakar and his wife in Potomac, Md., an affluent suburb of Washington, around midnight last July 31 with the intention of delivering money to the Nigerian leader while he was on a visit to the United States. The next day, the F.B.I. said, Mr. Jefferson told a confidential informant that he had delivered "African art" — which the agent described as code for a cash payment — and that Mr. Abubakar "was very pleased."

The value of art lies in the eyes of its beholder -- well, at least that's usually the case. Jefferson apparently has a different idea of art, perhaps one could say a more modern view of it.

Seriously, this opens an entirely new dimension to the case against Jefferson. Using his seat to influence and be influenced by foreign powers borders on treason in a strict legal sense. If the FBI can prove that Jefferson cast votes or introduced legislation intending on bolstering his personal business relationship with the Nigerians, the Democrats have a huge scandal on their hands. The Times writes that this documentation suggests Jefferson was "aggressive seeking to lobby officials in Nigeria and other West African nations", a mastery of understatement.

This stands in a completely different category of corruption altogether. The Democrats had better start cutting ties to Jefferson soon or risk having their biggest electoral strategy rendered null and void.

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