WASHINGTON - Add political banishment to the list of problems confronting Rep. William Jefferson, ensnared in a bribery scandal that fellow Democrats hope to turn to their election-year advantage.
"Democrats are determined to hold a high ethical standard," the party's leader, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, said Thursday night after engineering a 99-58 vote of the rank and file that stripped Jefferson of his seat on the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.
"This isn't about proof in the court of law. This is about an ethical standard," Pelosi said. "I wish that the White House would do the same."
The White House? She's not mad about the Rove non-indictment, is she? Still, to her credit, I believe, she did the right thing in sanctioning a member of Congress who was found to have $90,000 of FBI marked bills from a sting operation in his freezer. Of course it's race that's the reason, not corruption.
Asked if he thought race was a factor in Pelosi's decision, Jefferson replied before the vote, "It's not happened before. The first time it's happening, it's happening to an African-American."
The assertion that race is a factor has already been floated by members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including Watt, who question why Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, a white Democrat who also is under investigation, was allowed to keep his seat on the equally powerful Appropriations Committee.
I strongly doubt that Mr. Jefferson's race was a factor, but I have to admit that the dissimilar treatment of Mr. Mollohan raises that question. I suspect a better explanation is that with the "culture of corruption" grandstanding that Democrats were doing they hoped that by not making a big deal out of the Mollohan problems they might be forgotton by voters. Then the Jefferson problem cropped up, fairly dramatically, and they were forced to deal with it.
But hey, good luck with that "culture of corruption" thing, Ms. Pelosi.
Thanks for the links!