June 15, 2008

Jefferson’s Political Troubles Worsen

U.S. Rep. William Jefferson's chances of winning a tenth term in Congress are waning, political observers say.

The Louisiana Democrat, they say, defied the odds two years ago when he won re-election despite being under a federal investigation of his business dealings, The (New Orleans) Times-Picayune reported Sunday.

Since then, the U.S. Justice Department has indicted Jefferson on 16 counts of public corruption charges. His trial begins in December.

Making political matters worse for the New Orleans congressman is that recently his sister, Orleans Parish 4th District Assessor Betty Jefferson, along with his brother and political adviser, Mose Jefferson, were indicted on charges they conspired to divert more than $600,000 in taxpayer money from three charities they established to help youths.

The newspaper said at least six other Jefferson relatives were implicated in the indictment.

The confluence of events has placed Jefferson's political career on the brink, said New Orleans political consultant Bill Rouselle.

I'm a big Yogi Berra fan, and I never say anything is over until it's over, Rouselle said. And I've seen miracles in my lifetime. But this is one I'm skeptical can happen.