Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Jefferson follow-up

While some observers see the Jefferson indictment as possibly leading to a wider rift between Nancy Pelosi and the Black Caucus, at least the Caucus is doing the neutral thing regarding Jefferson:

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."

Exactly what I expected, but didn't dare hope for.

While the Caucus would be crazy to go to the mat for Jefferson, they do have a point about a double standard:

The black caucus accused Pelosi of a racially tinged double standard. As she was moving against Jefferson, she allowed Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W.Va.), who is white, to remain on the Appropriations Committee despite dealing with his own federal investigation. Mollohan, now chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the departments of Commerce and Justice, did recuse himself in issues involving federal law enforcement.

The difference, such as it is, is that the case (and known evidence) against Mollohan is nowhere near as lurid or eye-popping as that against Jefferson. But that's a pretty small difference. The more relevant distinction might be that Mollohan is a far more powerful legislator than Jefferson.

Regardless, Mollohan has no business retaining his seat on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, and arguably ought to step down from the Appropriations Committee in general. Letting him stay there is a far more egregious black eye for Democrats than letting due process take its time with Jefferson.

Update: Jefferson meekly gave up his seat on the Small Business Committee, sparing himself and committee members the embarassment of an expulsion vote. And Republicans are pushing to have Jefferson expelled from Congress -- an ethical standard I criticized as extreme in yesterday's post. Pelosi, meanwhile, is expected to quickly name 10 Democrats to a pool used to form investigative subcommittees of the Ethics Committee, a necessary prelude to an Ethics investigation of Jefferson.

Let me repeat: establishing expulsion-on-indictment as a standard for membership in Congress would be a very, very bad idea. It would be bad for individual rights, bad for representative democracy and encourage politically motivated investigations of Congress members. Republicans need to stop the irresponsible grandstanding. Isolate Jefferson? Fine. Kick him out before he's had a trial? No.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Dyre42 said...

Nice the the Republicans had one standard for Delay and another for Jefferson.

6/06/2007 12:03 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We've already had "politically motivated investigations of Congress." What do you think Tom Delay's investigation was all about? And I didn't see any Democrats letting down on that one. Plus, Delay didn't enrich himself by taking bribes either. The things Tom Delay was accused of....Democrats have done many times. Because it's LEGAL. Besides----thanks to the drumbeat of Democrats and the liberal press, Tom Delay is gone from Congress. Wiliam Jefferson should be gone from Congress.

JP5

6/06/2007 1:50 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

See, if you're a Republican, all you have to do is claim a "politically motivated indictment" and you don't have to resign....

JP5's defense of DeLay only serves to illustrate why an "expulsion on indictment" standard is a bad idea.

6/06/2007 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So---you mean you wish Tom Delay was still in power? Guess I don't understand your comment.

As long as Washington D.C. continues to play this game of "gotcha"....there will be some indictments that there shouldn't be. All one needs is a willing partisan D.A. or Special Prosecutor. Some of what was done to Bill Clinton,and all of what was done to Lewis Libby and Tom Delay qualify. Upon getting into office, George W. Bush tried to change all that....but to no avail. The partisan witch hunting continues and probably always will.

JP5

6/06/2007 9:57 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

So---you mean you wish Tom Delay was still in power? Guess I don't understand your comment.

Even though I'm glad DeLay's gone, surely you understand the difference between not liking a politician and demanding that that politician be thrown out of office.

I never called for DeLay to be expelled, even after he was indicted. I expressed heartfelt hope that he would resign and that voters would reject him, but I did not suggest that mere indictment was enough to merit being thrown out of Congress. It should and did cost him his leadership position (per Republican caucus rules), but not his seat.

6/06/2007 11:53 AM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

As long as Washington D.C. continues to play this game of "gotcha"....there will be some indictments that there shouldn't be.

Which, as I said, is the most powerful argument *against* an "expelled upon indictment" policy.

Honestly, what are you trying to argue here? Your point seems incoherent. You seem to support the idea that Congressmembers should be tossed out when they're indicted -- but at the same time you warn about politically motivated indictments. Why would you support the former if you believe the latter? And if you don't support the former, why are you saying Jefferson should be tossed out?

6/06/2007 11:56 AM  
Blogger Not Your Mama said...

I was going to say something. Never mind, I'm laughing too hard.

6/06/2007 1:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean says..."Honestly, what are you trying to argue here? Your point seems incoherent. You seem to support the idea that Congressmembers should be tossed out when they're indicted -- but at the same time you warn about politically motivated indictments. Why would you support the former if you believe the latter? And if you don't support the former, why are you saying Jefferson should be tossed out?"

I'm simply arguing for some consistency with what they do. For instance, the Republicans have their own rule that if one of their members gets indicted, he/she must step down from any leadership positions. The Democrats don't have such a rule. And yet the Dems seem to claim that what the Republicans do to their own isn't strong enough. You don't see the inconsistency there????

JP5

6/07/2007 4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sean also said...."I never called for DeLay to be expelled, even after he was indicted. I expressed heartfelt hope that he would resign and that voters would reject him, but I did not suggest that mere indictment was enough to merit being thrown out of Congress. It should and did cost him his leadership position (per Republican caucus rules), but not his seat."

Do you advocate that Dems adopt the same rule that Republicans have on indictments? If not, why not?

BTW, I am expressing "heartfelt hope" that Jefferson does the right thing and resigns. And I also don't like him. And I also am expressing "heartfelt hope" that the Democrat leadership will put the pressure on him to do so as well.

JP5

6/07/2007 4:24 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

I'm simply arguing for some consistency with what they do.

But how have they been inconsistent?

For instance, the Republicans have their own rule that if one of their members gets indicted, he/she must step down from any leadership positions. The Democrats don't have such a rule.

I've been looking for the Democrats' rules in that regard, without success. But while a clear rule would be good, what matters is their actual actions. And they've treated Jefferson at least as strictly as the Republican rules would require.

And yet the Dems seem to claim that what the Republicans do to their own isn't strong enough.

This feels like a nonsequeter. Can you provide an example of what you're talking about?

6/07/2007 4:29 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Do you advocate that Dems adopt the same rule that Republicans have on indictments? If not, why not?

Giving up leadership posts upon indictment? Yep.

And look what they did to Jefferson. He's not even in the leadership. He lost his prime committee seat *before* indictment, and the rest of them after.

BTW, I am expressing "heartfelt hope" that Jefferson does the right thing and resigns.

Since I do not actually know if he's guilty (though I think he is), I leave that up to him. He shouldn't resign if he really thinks he's innocent. But if he's guilty he should resign before the embarassment of a trial.

6/07/2007 4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP5 says...."And yet the Dems seem to claim that what the Republicans do to their own isn't strong enough."

Sean said: "This feels like a nonsequeter. Can you provide an example of what you're talking about?


Yes. Simply using the phrase "culture of corruption" to represent ALL Republicans would be a perfect example. That phrase implies it's systemic. It's no more a culture of corruption with Republicans than it is with Democrats.

Sean: "And look what they did to Jefferson. He's not even in the leadership. He lost his prime committee seat *before* indictment, and the rest of them after."

Oh please! I see they fooled you hook, line and sinker!! Guess you didn't notice they tried to re-install himn just 3 months ago into a leadership position with Homeland Security, of all places. That's a prime committe.

Sean: "Since I do not actually know if he's guilty (though I think he is), I leave that up to him. He shouldn't resign if he really thinks he's innocent. But if he's guilty he should resign before the embarassment of a trial."

Then he should resign now. He's guilty as heck! One of his aides who already admitted to his own guilt and is now serving time, also implicated Jefferson. Jefferson accepted the bribes from them. And he was found with $90,000 cash in his freezer. He's guilty.

JP5

6/07/2007 8:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

UPDATE ON JEFFERSON:

A federal judge today FROZE the assets of William Jefferson.


Great news!

JP5

6/07/2007 8:47 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Simply using the phrase "culture of corruption" to represent ALL Republicans would be a perfect example. That phrase implies it's systemic. It's no more a culture of corruption with Republicans than it is with Democrats.

While definitely a political hammer, it's accurate to the extent that the Republican corruption cases were systemic, involving the corrupt money system put in place by the Republican leadership. It wasn't isolated, individual acts of corruption like Jefferson.

Guess you didn't notice they tried to re-install himn just 3 months ago into a leadership position with Homeland Security, of all places. That's a prime committee.

Well #1, it's not a "prime" committee, not like Ways and Means or Appropriations. and #2, it was a seat on the committee, not a leadership position.

And #3, Yes I did. In fact, I'm the one who pointed out to you that the idea never came to fruition because of resistance within the Democratic ranks.

Then he should resign now. He's guilty as heck!

That is my opinion as well. But I'm not comfortable substituting my opinion for an actual trial.

6/07/2007 9:44 PM  

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