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FOILED AGAIN!

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By Michelle Malkin  •  May 22, 2006 08:51 AM

So much for the Dems’ attack on the GOP culture of corruption.

Now, they’ve got to contend with Democrat Rep. William Jefferson reportedly caught on tape accepting bribes in cold, hard cash. Emphasize on cold:

A congressman under investigation for bribery was caught on videotape accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded, according to a court document released Sunday. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer.

At one audiotaped meeting, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., chuckles about writing in code to keep secret what the government contends was his corrupt role in getting his children a cut of a communications company’s deal for work in Africa.

As Jefferson and the informant passed notes about what percentage the lawmaker’s family might receive, the congressman “began laughing and said, ‘All these damn notes we’re writing to each other as if we’re talking, as if the FBI is watching,'” according to the affidavit. …

As for the $100,000, the government says Jefferson got the money in a leather briefcase last July 30 at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Arlington. The plan was for the lawmaker to use the cash to bribe a high-ranking Nigerian official — the name is blacked out in the court document — to ensure the success of a business deal in that country, the affidavit said.

All but $10,000 was recovered on Aug. 3 when the FBI searched Jefferson’s home in Washington. The money was stuffed in his freezer, wrapped in $10,000 packs and concealed in food containers and aluminum foil…

Two of Jefferson’s associates have pleaded guilty to bribery-related charges in federal court in Alexandria. One, businessman Vernon Jackson of Louisville, Ky., admitted paying more than $400,000 in bribes to the lawmaker in exchange for his help securing business deals for Jackson’s telecommunications company in Nigeria and other African countries.

The new details about the case emerged after federal agents searched Jefferson’s congressional office on Capitol Hill Saturday night and Sunday. The nearly 100-page affidavit for a search warrant, made public Sunday with large portions blacked out, spells out much of the evidence so far.

The document includes excerpts of conversations between Jefferson and an unidentified business executive from northern Virginia. She agreed to wear a wire after she approached the FBI with complaints that Jefferson and an associate had ripped her off in a business deal.

Jefferson’s lawyer, Robert Trout, contended that the prosecutors’ disclosure was “part of a public relations agenda and an attempt to embarrass Congressman Jefferson. The affidavit itself is just one side of the story which has not been tested in court,” Trout said in a statement.

The affidavit says Jefferson is caught on videotape at the Ritz-Carlton as he takes a reddish-brown briefcase from the trunk of the informant’s car, slips it into a cloth bag, puts the bag into his 1990 Lincoln Town Car and drives away.

The $100 bills in the suitcase had the same serial numbers as those found in Jefferson’s freezer…

Add this one to the files, Howard.

***

Scrappleface spoofs: “Rep. Jefferson Hid Cash to Protect Colleagues.”

One of Ed Morrissey’s readers notes the possible connection between the bribe scandal and another Jefferson brouhaha over the congressman’s use of “National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftop:”

On Sept. 2 — five days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast — Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who represents New Orleans and is a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was allowed through the military blockades set up around the city to reach the Superdome, where thousands of evacuees had been taken. …

The water reached to the third step of Jefferson’s house, a military source familiar with the incident told ABC News, and the vehicle pulled up onto Jefferson’s front lawn so he wouldn’t have to walk in the water. Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour.

Finally, according to the source, Jefferson emerged with a laptop computer, three suitcases, and a box about the size of a small refrigerator, which the enlisted men loaded up into the truck.

Writes Ed:

At the time, most people considered this an example of petty corruption and tremendous arrogance. It does not surprise in the least that one who indulges in petty corruption also engages in it on a much more ambitious scale. It certainly seems tempting to believe that either the suitcases or the mysterious mini-fridge-sized box might have something to do with the bribery.

Did Jefferson hijack the relief effort to get his cash out of the flood? Perhaps Jefferson might one day tell us.

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