February 16, 2007

Dollar Bill On Homeland Security?

William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, under investigation for corruption, has been assigned to the House Homeland Security Committee, the Washington Post reports. The Congressman's last brush with security was having subpoenas served on his office and FBI agents raiding it, after earlier finding $90,000 in his freezer:

Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who's facing an ongoing federal corruption probe, is being granted a spot on the Homeland Security Committee, according to Democratic aides.

The appointment will be announced Friday, according to one aide who requested anonymity because the decision isn't yet official.

Jefferson was removed from his seat on the Ways and Means Committee, one of the most important panels in Congress, by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) last summer in an attempt to show how seriously Democrats viewed the allegations of corruption.

But the move by Pelosi, who was still minority leader at the time, infuriated members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who said Jefferson shouldn't be punished unless he is indicted; federal prosecutors have yet to bring an indictment, despite an FBI raid 18 months ago on his home that yielded $90,000 in cash in his freezer.

I suppose this should come as no surprise. Nancy Pelosi, who campaigned on cleaning out the swamp in Congress, allowed Alan Mollahan to chair a subcommittee that has responsibility for Department of Justice appropriations -- despite being under investigation by the FBI for corruption. Now we have the symbol of Democratic corruption being assigned to Homeland Security.

So much for cleaning up Congress.

Jefferson will have no oversight over the DoJ or the FBI, but that's hardly the point. Two of Jefferson's aides have already been convicted of corruption and bribery directly involving Jefferson himself, and the FBI found almost a hundred thousand dollars in his freezer. That may not be enough to remove Jefferson from Congress -- his constituents did not think so, unfortunately -- but that doesn't mean that the Democrats have to put him on a committee with such grave responsibilities for the defense of the nation. Billions of dollars flow through that committee; how much of that will wind up in Dollar Bill's freezer in this session of Congress?

Pelosi and the Congressional Black Caucus, who obviously pressured the Speaker for this assignment, have gambled that the FBI will not be able to indict Jefferson. If an indictment comes down, the entire group will have to answer for this assignment -- and the Republicans will have a great example of Democratic hypocrisy in 2008.


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