Yesterday, Representative William Jefferson (D LA) was indicted on 16 counts of bribery and corruption. If Jefferson is found guilty, it will be one of the most blatant examples of criminal conduct by a member of Congress. It also could be one of the most damaging to Congress, if he remains in office much longer.
Jefferson should step down now. The people of New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana’s 2nd Congressional District need and deserve a representative in Congress focused on their concerns instead of his own.
If he refuses to leave Congress, the Democratic leadership should push for an immediate review and decision in the ethics committee, which has been mulling over the $90,000 found wrapped in aluminum foil in Jefferson’s freezer since 2005. Yet another reason why we need a truly independent ethics review process – like that provided by an Office of Public Integrity.
To Speaker Pelosi’s credit, she did remove Jefferson from the powerful Ways and Means Committee. But now that the grand jury has indicted Jefferson, leadership should move quickly to protect the integrity of the institution.
The "cleanest Congress" must not allow Jefferson’s cloud of corruption to sully the important reforms now under consideration. The Democrats should show that they will not tolerate impropriety and indictments on either side of the aisle.
Time to clean House – again.