Frozen Assets

Frozen Assets

I am not sure where to begin with this sorrid episode in US politics. When I heard that Congressman William Jefferson was caught on tape taking a bribe I couldn't help think about another black politician who was videotaped. I figured that the Republicans were all breathing a collective sigh of relief! A Democrat, a black Democrat on tape taking a bribe. (To be fair, it is alleged that he is on tape taking a bribe. I haven't heard anything yet. Have you?)

Things were starting to look up for the Republicans, the FBI obtained a search warrant and searched the congressman's office for more incriminating evidence to go along with the cash in the freezer.

That's when things start getting strange. The Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert along with Democrat House Leader Nancy Pelosi came to the aid of Jefferson, decrying what they saw as a violation of the separation of powers by the White House. Now I don't know if the Bush administration crossed the line again when it comes to the usurpation of congressional authority, but it does indicate that the members of congress have finally reached the point where they aren't just going to let the Bush administration push them around...for now...on this issue.

And just when you thought the all the strange occurances had reached a climax, Nancy Pelosi proved that there is no end to the strange goings on in Washington DC. It seems that Nancy Pelosi and other members of the House Democrat leadership (who are also member of the Democrat Leadership Council) asked William Jefferson, who isn't a member of the DLC to resign his seat on the House Ways and Means Committee. (Which he won't do.) Now, this could be racism at its finest. Or it could be the unspoken cause of the decline of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) by the DLC. It seems that another Democrat by the name of Alan Mollohan, (W. Va.) who sat on two house committees and was only asked to step down from one, the Ethics Committee and the second; the House Appropriations Committee which he was not asked to resign from.

I don't know what will be the final resolution to the investigation of William Jefferson. I do think that there are some important things to remember, as Mr Jefferson himself said,
"None of the matters reported to be under scrutiny involves issues under jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee. Therefore, such a request (to step down) would be even more perplexing and unreasonable. If I agreed, it would unfairly punish the people of the 2nd Congressional District and I will not stand for that."

Jefferson also pointed out that stepping down from the Ways and Means Committee would be "discriminatory" because no other member under investigation has been required give up a major committee assignment. This would include members of either party, including the previously mentioned Mollohan.

Update: ABC News has reported that House Speaker Dennis Hastert is being investigated on charges of corruption by the very same FBI that searched the office of William Jefferson. It would appear that the separation of powers concerns I spoke of earlier just might be about self-preservation on Hastert's part rather than his concerns for a fellow congressman. According to the ABC story,
Law enforcement sources told ABC News that convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff has provided information to the FBI about Hastert and a number of other members of Congress that have broadened the scope of the investigation. Sources would not divulge details of the Abramoff's information.

Another aspect of this post is the strange things that happen in Washington, it should be noted that Hastert's deputy chief of staff Mike Stokke believes that the FBI investigation has nothing to do with the Abramoff investigation.
"We've been in discussion with them since Sunday, with the Department of Justice, on this other matter of unconstitutional search and seizure." Stokke told the newspaper. "I don't recall any threats being made, but this is what is called in baseball a brushback pitch. ABC News got this from somewhere. I don't think they made this up."

"Brushback pitch?" More like Hastert got caught flinching on a called strike, his second strike.

2nd Update: It does appear that the Congressional Black Caucus is disgusted with Nancy Pelosi for her letter calling on Congressman Jefferson to resign.
Late in the day on Wednesday, Watt led a delegation of six senior CBC members — including Reps. Rangel, John Conyers (Mich.) and John Lewis (Ga.) — to a private meeting with Pelosi to inform the Leader that the CBC will publicly oppose her effort.

“I think she’s taking us down to the point where on Nov. 8 she’ll still be the Minority Leader,” an aide to a CBC member said. “Why act now and split the Caucus when there’s no precedent for it? Why not wait until there’s an indictment, when you could have unanimity behind you?”

The real story that is not being discussed is the role of the DLC within the DNC. Pelosi has clearly demonstrated a double standard within her own party in her treatment of Congressman Mollohan. I wonder if she would resign her position as minority leader if she found herself in Mr. Jefferson's position. I have no doubt that she would proclaim that she is innocent until proven guilty and that stepping down would be reserved until she had at least been indicted. Funny how she hasn't afforded Mr. Jefferson that same right.

I wish that I lived in her district just so I could vote for the candidate that runs against her in November.

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Blogger Sarah Elaine said...

Wow... All is sounds like a Hollywood film. Now I know where those movie writers get their script ideas!

5/25/2006 12:39 PM  
Blogger Damien said...

heh now that goes in the whoops file, wow the feds seem to have totally surrounded DC these days and are going in for the kill!!!

5/25/2006 5:07 PM  

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