Heaven forfend Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) should be the face of the Congressional Indicted Caucus all by himself. No longer. It’s official: Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA), currently facing trial for bribery and 15 other corruption-related charges, will be on the ballot for a tenth term as congressman for Louisiana’s 2nd District.
Jefferson was under suspicion (though not indictment) two years ago when he won another term due in large part to a great number of Katrina-displaced voters not participating. Now freshly indicted, his status in Congress greatly diminished, and suffering bad publicity from family members also under indictment, many are doubting he can pull off another miracle.
Details and analysis below the break.
Jefferson narrowly won re-election two years ago shortly after federal agents raided his home and found over $90,000 in alleged bribe money wrapped in foil and stowed in his freezer. He managed to convince voters that in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the New Orleans-dominated district needed someone with his seniority and seat on the Ways and Means Committee (still chaired to this day by ethical midget and earnest aspirant to the Congressional Indicted Caucus, Rep. Charlie Rangel [D-NY]).
Since his re-election and subsequent indictment, however, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stripped him of his W&MC membership until the cloud over his head dissipates. The seniority argument for Jefferson’s re-election no longer applies, and you can bet all six (!!) of his current challengers will dig up footage of Jefferson making that argument and running it with a “Fool me once…” campaign theme.
Speaking of which, the sheer mass of opposition on the ballot (made possible thanks to the rather unorthodox nature of Louisiana’s so-called “jungle” election process) is probably Jefferson’s best chance: his competition is diluted. As with his last campaign, in which he faced 12 opponents, his incumbency gives him an excellent chance to rally his core for enough votes at least to force a runoff. Such a runoff would pit him, a well-funded incumbent, against a challenger with a sliver of support from the first election.
Oh, by the way, one other new wrinkle since the last election, according to the Star-Tribune article linked above: Jefferson’s brother and sister are also up for trial on fraud charges of their own, with another sister convicted last summer of helping cover it up. Some pundits say this may be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back.
UPDATE: Yes, I realize Rep. Jefferson’s actual indictment was handed down over a year ago, so by that light he is not the “latest addition,” as advertised in the post title. Jefferson, like Stevens, is notable here because he has the brass ones to run for re-election under that cloud. I should have been clearer: the Congressional Indicted Caucus is made up of members of the House and Senate who have gotten themselves indicted, yet nevertheless maintain a death-grip on their seats in Congress. Representatives and Senators who resign under indictment are ineligible.