June 8, 2006

Democrats seek congressman’s removal from panel

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of House Democratic leaders
on Thursday recommended that Rep. William Jefferson, a
Louisiana Democrat under investigation for alleged bribery, be
removed from the House Ways and Means Committee.

The House Democratic Steering Committee voted for the
Jefferson's "temporary removal" from his seat on the powerful
committee, which oversees tax, trade and health-care issues,
according to a Democratic member of the House of

House Democrats scheduled a meeting of the full membership
for 8 p.m. to decide whether to embrace the recommendation. If
they vote to kick Jefferson off of the panel, the initiative
would move to the House floor for a vote.

The Justice Department is investigating whether Jefferson
took more than $400,000 in bribes to promote Internet
technology in West Africa. Jefferson denies any wrongdoing.

The investigation been known publicly since August, when
the FBI raided Jefferson's homes in Washington and New Orleans.

A former Jefferson congressional staffer and a Kentucky
businessman have pleaded guilty to bribing him in connection
with the African telecommunications venture.

The FBI disclosed last month that it videotaped Jefferson
accepting a bribe and found $90,000 in cash in his freezer.