There are strange things done 'neath the midnight sunService tells a strange tale, to be sure, but it can’t hold a candle to what is happening in the Congress lately.
By the men who moil for gold.
The arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold.
The northern lights have seen queer sights
But the queerest they ever did see,
Was that night on the marge of Lake LeBarge
When I cremated Sam McGee.
-- from The Cremation of Sam McGee.
Our story starts with William Jefferson, a Democratic Representative from Louisiana. Turns out he is a crook. I mean, presumption of innocence, he’s been advised by attorneys not to discuss the case, two sides to every story, yadda-yadda.
On the other hand, last week it was revealed that he was videotaped taking a $100,000 bribe by FBI agents conducting a sting operation. The money was found in a food freezer in his house, and you can insert your own “cold cash” or “frozen assets” joke here.
The Democrats, for good and sufficient reasons, are looking forward to running against the culture of corruption in the next election, and the next after that. The sad part is that the case of William Jefferson takes some of the blush off that blossom. But it needn’t be so.
Here’s Nancy Pelosi last March, talking about L'Affaire Jefferson:
In the case of Mr. Jefferson, I think the Ethics Committee should investigate him. It is his private matter, and he should be investigated because of the stories that have been in the press and the guilty plea that you mentioned yesterday. That is his business; that's not ours.
Check out the video here. On the May 7th edition of Meet the Press, Rep. Pelosi confirmed that she had, indeed, asked the House ethics committee to investigate Jefferson.
For reasons that remain unknown, the Justice Department decided to serve a search warrant on the Congressional office of Rep. Jefferson. The search occurred over the weekend. That’s when the excrement hit the ventilator.
Here’s how the New York Times reported it:
After years of quietly acceding to the Bush administration's assertions of executive power, the Republican-led Congress hit a limit this weekend.Dennis Hastert? Wasn’t his name in the news for something else, today? Oh yeah. Could that be the same J. Dennis Hastert mentioned in this story on Reuters?
Resentment boiled among senior Republicans for a second day on Tuesday after a team of warrant-bearing agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation turned up at a closed House office building on Saturday evening, demanded entry to the office of a lawmaker and spent the night going through his files.
The episode prompted cries of constitutional foul from Republicans — even though the lawmaker in question, Representative William J. Jefferson of Louisiana, is a Democrat whose involvement in a bribery case has made him an obvious partisan political target.
Speaker J. Dennis Hastert raised the issue personally with President Bush on Tuesday. The Senate Rules Committee is examining the episode.
The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, is under investigation by the FBI, which is probing corruption in Congress, ABC News reported on Wednesday.Coincidence? Perhaps not.
ABC, citing high level Justice Department sources, said information implicating Hastert was developed from convicted lobbyists who are now cooperating with the government.
Part of the investigation involves a letter Hastert wrote three years ago, urging the Secretary of the Interior to block a casino on an Indian reservation that would have competed with those of other tribes.
“… and tell ’em Big Mitch sent ya!”