Democratic leaders fear that Rep. William J. Jefferson’s indictment yesterday on racketeering and bribery charges, coming exactly one year after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi engineered his ouster from the powerful Ways and Means Committee, could rekindle a smoldering dispute between the speaker and black lawmakers who were once pillars of her power.
For months, the Louisiana Democrat’s mounting legal peril has bedeviled Democrats as they sought first to point to corruption as a tool to oust Republicans from control of Congress, then pressed for ethics and lobbying changes that they said would usher in a new era of clean politics on Capitol Hill. For every thrust Democrats made against the GOP, Republicans parried with Jefferson, saying problems in Congress were bipartisan.
Through it all, much of the Congressional Black Caucus has stood by Jefferson and against the Democratic leadership. And yesterday, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), a veteran caucus member, said it would be “as supportive of our colleague as possible, in terms of saying a person in America is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty.”
Looks like the GOP, seeking a decision on whether Jefferson should be expelled from Pelosi’s mostethicalhouseever, may move as soon as today for an ethics review of the lurid 16-count, 95-page indictment against the Freezer King. Jefferson holds one last committee seat on the Small Business Committee. But probably not for long:
“I can’t imagine that based on what’s happened and what we’ve done [on ethics rules changes and lobbying legislation] that at the very least, he’ll be asked to step down from committee,” said House Democratic Caucus Chairman Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), who stressed that he was not speaking for the leadership. “We’ve set down a pretty clear marker about what’s going to be expected.”
That’ll earn Emanuel more scorn from the nutroots and accusations of racial double standards from the Congressional Black Caucus–which, as I noted last June when he was stripped of his Ways and Means seat, gave Jefferson a standing ovation after he accused the Dem leadership of singling him out because he was black.
Live by identity politics, die by identity politics.
Bigger headaches for the Clean House Club:
The Democrats in Congress have lost much of the leadership edge they carried out of the 2006 midterm election, with the lack of progress in Iraq being the leading cause. Their only solace: President Bush and the Republicans aren’t doing any better.
Six weeks ago the Democrats held a 24-point lead over Bush as the stronger leadership force in Washington; today that’s collapsed to a dead heat. The Democrats’ overall job approval rating likewise has dropped, from a 54 percent majority to 44 percent now — with the decline occurring almost exclusively among strong opponents of the Iraq War…
…The shift away from the Democrats in Congress has occurred on two levels. In terms of their overall approval rating, the damage is almost entirely among people who strongly oppose the war in Iraq. In this group 69 percent approved of the Democrats in April, but just 54 percent still approve now — a likely effect of the Democrats’ failure to push a withdrawal timetable through Congress.
Their decline in leadership ratings vs. Bush is more broadly based — that’s occurred among war opponents and supporters alike, apparently reflecting more an assessment of their performance than an expression of support or opposition.
Dems call Dems racist
How the Dems clean house
Blocking Cold Cash Jefferson
Cold Cash Jefferson on Homeland Security Committee
How Dems store their bribes
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