Sunday, December 07, 2008

Louisiana voters oust indicted congressman Jefferson

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

NEW ORLEANS — Voters in Louisiana ousted indicted Democratic Rep. William Jefferson on Saturday, instead electing a Republican attorney who will be the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.

Unofficial results showed Anh "Joseph" Cao denying Jefferson a 10th term. Republicans made an aggressive push to take the seat from the 61-year-old incumbent, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, laundering money and misusing his congressional office.

Cao, 41, won a predominantly black and heavily Democratic district that covers most of New Orleans.

A barrage of election-day automated telephone calls on Cao's behalf flooded the district, including a pitch from the national Republican Party.

New Orleans voters had long been loyal to Jefferson, re-electing him in 2006 even after news of the bribery scandal broke. Late-night TV comics made him the butt of jokes after federal agents said they found $90,000 in alleged bribe money hidden in his freezer.

"People are innocent until proven guilty," said Faye Leggins, 54, an educator and Democrat who moved back to the city six months ago and still has fresh memories of Hurricane Katrina. She voted for Jefferson on Saturday. "He has enough seniority, so he can do a lot to redevelop this city."

More here.

People are, indeed, innocent until proven guilty, which a certain former Senator from Alaska continues to say even after his conviction. But this isn't about Jefferson's innocence or guilt. It's about getting caught with a sack full of money in his freezer; it's about his lame-ass explanation that it has something to do with his working for an FBI sting operation. It's about his being indicted for bribery.

It's about how somebody in Jefferson's current position is a filthy stain on our democracy.

The now former Congressman will eventually have his day in court, and if he can somehow prove his innocence, if he can get the FBI agents he claimed to be working with to back up his absurd story, then I hope the jury votes him not guilty. But he has no business representing the people right now. He should have resigned until he can get this mess behind him. Instead, he's stuck around, making his city, his state, his party, and the entire House of Representatives look really, really, really bad.

Good riddance to him.