The William Jefferson Chronicles

Editorial: Remind politicians that they're not above the law
The Aurora Sentinel

Published: Monday, May 18, 2009 10:11 PM MDT

It’s nearly impossible to decide what the most insulting characteristic of trendy crooked politicians is: their arrogance believing they deserve to use their positions to cheat and steal, or that they mount such extraordinary defenses of their sleazy crimes, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Perhaps it is a tie — at least it is in the case of former Congressman William Jefferson.

Jefferson is the Louisiana lawmaker famously caught in 2007 with $90,000 in his kitchen freezer and accused of a long list of bribery scams in previous years.

Not only did the FBI snag Jefferson’s cold cash, they have a slew of witnesses willing to testify that the veteran congressman was running a host of scams. Most involved ways Jefferson sought to take bribes for congressional favors, according to the FBI.

It was hard to see anything but suspect behavior in what Jefferson was doing almost two years ago when the FBI raided his congressional office.

Jefferson has yet to offer any plausible explanation for his actions, but he’s spent plenty of time in court trying to prevent himself from having to make any explanations at all. Wildly, the man was actually re-elected even while federal investigators continued to make clear how strong their case was against Jefferson. Thankfully, he was ousted in a election last fall.

Now, just when most Americans figured Jefferson must surely be behind bars by now, he gets an answer from the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that, much to the disappointment of Jefferson and probably disgraced Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, members of the government have no extraordinary rights when it comes to staying out of court and jail.

Jefferson essentially argued that his staffers, who were witnesses to his crimes, shouldn’t have been able to testify against him because his crimes were committed while performing his duties as a federal lawmakers, earning him immunity.

An appeals court and the Supreme Court wouldn’t buy it, and neither do most Americans. Like most, we tire of these stories of crooked politicians vigorously defending their right to break the law.

Two years is too long to get Jefferson into court to explain what he did to get $90,000 that ended up in his refrigerator freezer.

Americans deserve justice in the case instead of allowing Jefferson and others to try and run out the clock on our attention and determination to hold even members of Congress accountable.

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