My heart bleeds, it really does

House suspends Jefferson from powerful committee

WASHINGTON (CNN) — The House voted Friday to remove Rep. William Jefferson, who’s mired in a federal bribery probe, from his seat on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

The vote came after the Democratic Caucus voted Thursday night to suspend Jefferson. Democrats were unswayed by Jefferson’s argument that the sanction was unfair and complaints from other black lawmakers that he is the victim of a double standard.

Double standard, my ass.  This guy had ninety thousand dollars stashed in his freezer.

I think the Congressional Black Caucus (minus Rangel and Lewis) is being stupid about this.  The background here is that the CBC, and Jefferson in particular, are still pissed with Nancy Pelosi (who, as Minority Leader, had previously sent a letter asking Jefferson to step down) for passing Jefferson over for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2002, in favor of one of her friends from CA.  I assume, as might happen with any small political group, they’re also closing ranks around a very influential member. 

But making threats about how this will cost the Democrats votes from the black community?  (Oh, wait, my mistake, Watt added that he’s “not saying” what he’s repeatedly saying.  Okay then.)  I don’t think that even passes the laugh test.  As Steve Gilliard likes to point out, black voters aren’t stupid.  Your average voter will have no problem seeing that it probably isn’t racism to bump a guy from his influential committee appointment after he’s found with — can’t stress this enough — ninety grand in his damn freezer.

(As an aside, I think Watt’s ostentatious non-threat gets it exactly backwards.  The CBC, ideally, would exist as a body that could use its clout to speak up on behalf of black voters, rather than arrogantly claim ownership of the Black Vote.)

Jefferson may or may not ever get his day in court, though my money (I don’t have $90,000 in literally cold, hard cash, but I’d put a five on it) says he will.  But Jesus, this guy is pretty obviously corrupt as hell.  No one in the middle of a bribery scandal has any business on the damn Ways and Means Committee, especially if the Democrats want to make an even halfway credible case for being the non-corrupt party.

Also, this has nothing to do with the current scandal, but speaks to my assessment of Jefferson as an asshole in general:

Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned.

So there you go.  The quicker he’s out of office, the better.

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