RACE CARD in Jefferson case!
Democratic leaders have decided to force Rep. William Jefferson off the Ways and Means Committee. The Congressional Black Caucus is accusing Pelosi & Co. of a racially-motivated double standard because Al Mollohan is still on the Appropriations committee.
Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) warns that this is "about to blow up in their face"!
From the Associated Press:
A drive by the Democratic leadership to strip embattled Rep. William Jefferson of his committee post triggered a backlash Thursday as the Congressional Black Caucus opposed the move and said the Louisiana lawmaker deserves a "presumption of innocence."Let me explain why this is so explosive. Jefferson is black, Al Mollohan is white. Both are under investigation, but neither has been indicted. Mollohan was forced to step down as the top Democrat on th House ethics committee, but retained his seat on the Appropriations committee.
The caucus chairman, Rep. Melvin Watt of North Carolina, told reporters that some black voters might ask why action was sought against "a black member of Congress" when there was neither precedent nor rule for it. ....
Emerging from the session, he distributed a statement that said the Congressional Black Caucus perhaps has a "unique appreciation of our nation's constitutional guarantee of the presumption of innocence."
The statement added the group "therefore opposes suggestions that some have made to force Rep. Jefferson to resign from Congress or to remove him involuntarily from his position on the Ways and Means Committee in the absence of precedents that have been historically applied and will be consistently applied in the future."
Speaking for himself, Watt was more pointed.
He said the leadership was open to a charge that it was acting out of political expedience. "It's about to blow up in their face," he added.
Now, while both men are "innocent until proven guilty," what Jefferson is accused of is chump change compared to Mollohan. "Beach Boy" Mollohan bought himself a $1.2 million 6-bedroom oceanfront house in North Carolina, and saw his personal fortune increase from less than $500,000 to over $6 million in the space of four years, while his investment partners were reportedly benefitting from federal grants arranged by Mollohan.
So, why does Nancy Pelosi want to force Jefferson to give up his committee seat, but let Mollohan keep his?
We predicted Thursday morning this was going to be trouble:
So, in a make-or-break election year, Pelosi has to choose between keeping Jefferson -- whose scandal is spoiling her "culture of corruption" theme -- or alienating the CBC. It's so fun to watch the CBC making Nancy sweat.
There's coverage by The Washington Times, and this is from the LA Times:
Jennifer Crider, a spokeswoman for Pelosi, said any claim that race played a role in calling for Jefferson to quit Ways and Means was "absolutely untrue."Uh, "the highest ethical standard" for Democrats? How about Harry Reid? How about John Conyers?
"This is about upholding the highest ethical standard for every member of the\ Democratic caucus," she said.
At Free Republic, one commenter observes: "This is the DNC's worst nightmare."
Exactly. Year in, year out, Democrats get over 90% of the black vote. In return, blacks get ... well, who knows? But the point is, for years, black Democrats have been complaining that their partisan loyalty is a one-way street. They keep voting Democrat, and Democrats keep taking them for granted. So now, Jefferson is refusing to step down, and the CBC has called the Democrats' bluff.
Look at what Mel Watt says:
Referring to black voters, who are among the most loyal Democrats in the electorate, he added, "You've got a whole base of people out there who believe that the Democratic Party takes them for granted already."
If action is taken only against someone who "is a black member of Congress, then our community will legitimately ask what in the world are you doing?"
Believe it or not, Kos wonders the same thing: " I still don't get why the Congressional Black Caucus insists on standing firmly behind Jefferson. ... It doesn't say much good for the organization to close ranks behind a crook and thief like Jefferson."
At Red State, Crank observes, "She who lives by the race card ...."
Also blogging: Flap, Jarhead John and BigD, who points out that the left-wing Workers World Party (best known for their International ANSWER front group) is doing the conspiracy trip:
A recent FBI raid on the Washington, D.C., office of Congressperson William Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana, represented the use of police-state methods for the dual purpose of diverting attention from corrupt Republicans while destroying the career of a key Black elected official. ...Hey, wait until RFK Jr. hears about this! First, they stole the election in Ohio, then they ruined Air America, now those evil Republicans are framing Jefferson!
It is a case being made by the racist oppressor in a situation that excludes the oppressed from the process.
Pop quiz: When did the Democrats come up with their "culture of corruption" soundbite?
Answer: September 2005, after Tom DeLay was indicted by Ronnie Earle in Texas.
In researching that question, I came across this story from The Hill, which quotes a word of caution from Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): “We have to be careful how we handle this politically. ... It could be seen as an indictment of Congress rather than Republicans. This is a delicate issue.”
Yeah, it pays to be careful, Charlie, when you end up having to admit you violated House ethics rules with a trip to Cuba.
But here's Pelosi's problem: She wants to run against a Republican "culture of corruption," and all the media attention to William "Cold Cash" Jefferson is making that hard to sell, so she wants him out. But by doing so, she's angering black Democrats who see a double standard with Mollohan, and black Democrats have got to be saying to themselves: "What did a bunch of West Virginia whiteys ever do for the Democratic Party? Pelosi wouldn't be where she is if it wasn't for black Democrats, and now she's throwing Jefferson to the sharks."
Previously on WM. JEFFERSON
6/8: Jefferson refuses to go quietly
6/5: FBI raid constitutional?
5/24: Don't resign, Mr. Jefferson!
5/21: Caught on tape
5/3: Illegal to give, illegal to receive?
4/4: A tale of two congressmen
2/17: You know it's bad when ...
1/17: Knee-deep in the Big Muddy
Previously on AL MOLLOHAN:
5/15: Mollohan update
4/27: Surber KO's "Beach Boy"
4/21: Mr. Ethics steps down
4/12: Democrats? Ethics? Hello?
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