Richmond set to face Cao for Big Easy Congressional seat

Standard

Hat Tip: New Orleans Times Picayune

State Rep. Cedric Richmond won two of every three votes cast in heavily African-American precincts and nearly half of all votes in heavily white precincts in Saturday’s Democratic primary to advance to the Nov. 2 general election for the 2nd Congressional District, an analysis of ballot results shows.

Cedric Richmond

Richmond, a three-term legislator from eastern New Orleans, will face incumbent Republican Anh “Joseph” Cao, also of New Orleans, and three little-known independent candidates to represent the district that covers most of the city and a swath of Jefferson Parish.

Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to the U.S. House, won the seat with strong Democratic support two years ago when he ousted nine-term incumbent William Jefferson, who campaigned under the specter of a federal corruption probe. After a trial last summer, Jefferson was sentenced to 13 years in prison and remains free on appeal.

Joseph Cao

Richmond got 60 percent of the vote on Saturday, when a dismal 8 percent of the district’s voters turned out, a poor showing that was likely a result of rainy weather and the distraction of the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

State Rep. Juan LaFonta came in second, with 21 percent, followed by former Jefferson chief of staff Eugene Green, with 10 percent, and newcomer Gary Johnson, who served a stint last year as research director for the House Rules Committee, with 8 percent.

In a district where six of 10 registrants are African-American, Richmond’s strong showing among black voters — especially in Jefferson Parish — helped secure his victory, according to an analysis by University of New Orleans political scientist Ed Chervenak.

I believe that it is a certainty that Cedric Richmond is the next Congressman for New Orleans.  His win will be the sole defeat of a Republican incumbent this cycle.

Congressman Jefferson’s kin Indicted

Standard

Hat Tip: By Michael Kunzelman, Associated Press

A brother, sister and niece of indicted U.S. Rep. William Jefferson were charged Wednesday with pocketing more than $600,000 in state and federal grant money intended for charitable and educational projects.

A federal grand jury indicted New Orleans tax assessor Betty Jefferson, her brother, Mose Jefferson, and her daughter, Angela Coleman, on charges that include federal program fraud, identity theft and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten said the family members used several non-profit and for-profit companies to obtain grants designed to help pregnant teens, at-risk youths and others in need of assistance. They allegedly deposited some of the grant money into personal checking accounts and used it for personal expenses.

With Wednesday’s indictment, four members of the politically prominent Jefferson family now face federal criminal charges.

Rep. Jefferson, 61, a nine-term Louisiana Democrat, was indicted last year on bribery charges. He is awaiting a trial in Virginia and has denied wrongdoing. The congressman wasn’t named in Wednesday’s indictment, and faces a re-election campaign this fall.

Mose Jefferson, 66, pleaded not guilty in April to separate charges that he paid bribes to a former New Orleans school board president.

Wednesday’s indictment also charges Betty Jefferson, 70, with four counts of tax evasion. She faces up to 279 years in prison. The grand jury also charged Mose Jefferson with making false statements to federal investigators. He faces up to 250 years in prison, while Coleman faces a maximum of 257 years behind bars.

 

 

Dollar Bill loses change of venue motion in federal corruption trial

Standard

 

Surprise, y’all. Corrupt “Dollar” Bill Jefferson lost his change of venue motion to the District of Columbia in his federal corruption trial. Now, he’ll hafta face the white folk in Northern Virginia and explain how all dat payola ended up in his damn freezer. Give the Lord a hand clap, y’all.

According to the Associated Press, “Rep. William J. Jefferson, D-La., had argued that the government unfairly brought charges against him in suburban Alexandria rather than the District of Columbia because it wanted a venue where fewer blacks are in the jury pool. Jefferson, who represents much of New Orleans, is black.”

“Prosecutors contend that northern Virginia is an appropriate venue because that is where Jefferson was caught on videotape accepting bribes, and because the alleged victim in the bribery scheme ran a business based in the area.”

I cannot wait until the white jury foreman delivers the verdict and pronounces Jefferson guilty. That moment of ecstasy will be better than an orgasm.

 

 

The Jefferson empire is crumbling right on schedule. His baby girl and political protege, Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, a lawyer and state representative, lost her bid for a promotion to the State Senate to the candidate I endorsed, Cheryl Gray, a few weeks ago. Gray beat her like she stole somethin’ 71% to 29%. Give the Lord another hand clap, y’all.

When they finally convict this Negro, sometime next year, I anticipate that my girl, Karen Carter, will be ready to step up and take her place in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Mychal Bell is freed on bail

Standard

 'Jena 6' suspect free on bail

Hat Tip: Doug Simpson, Associated Press

A black teenager whose prosecution in the beating of a white classmate prompted a massive civil rights protest here walked out of a courthouse Thursday after a judge ordered him freed.

Mychal Bell’s release came hours after a prosecutor confirmed he will no longer seek an adult trial for the 17-year-old. Bell, one of the teenagers known as the Jena Six, still faces trial as a juvenile in the December beating.

District Attorney Reed Walters’ decision to abandon adult charges means that Bell, who had faced a maximum of 15 years in prison on his aggravated second-degree battery conviction last month, instead could be held only until he turns 21 if he is found guilty in juvenile court.

The conviction in adult court was thrown out this month by the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal, which said Bell should not have been tried as an adult on that particular charge.

Walters credited the prayers of people in this small central Louisiana town with averting a “disaster” when tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on the town. Some critics of Walters considered that a slap against the peaceful marchers.

Mychal Bell’s bail set at $45,000

Standard

 art.mychal.bell.jpg

Hat Tip: (CNN) — Bail was being posted Thursday for Mychal Bell, a black teenager accused of beating a white classmate, after a district attorney’s announcement that he would not appeal a higher court’s decision moving Bell’s case to juvenile court, according to the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Mychal Bell, 17, is accused with five others of beating Justin Barker in a school fight.

Bell’s bail was set at $45,000, Sharpton said. The paperwork was being worked out, he said, and the bail bondsman was at the courthouse.

Earlier Thursday, Bell was moved from jail to a juvenile facility, according to his attorney, Lewis Scott.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters said his decision not to appeal was based on what he believed is best for the victim in the case.

“While I believe that a review would have merit … I believe it is in the best interest of the victim and his family not to delay this matter any further and move it to its conclusion,” Walters told reporters. Video Watch the district attorney say he won’t challenge the ruling. »

He said a march by 15,000 people last week in the small town of 3,000 residents led by civil rights leaders Sharpton and Martin Luther King III did not influence his decision.

Demonstrators were protesting how authorities handled the cases of Bell and five other teens accused of beating fellow student Justin Barker.

Many said they are angry that the students, dubbed the “Jena 6,” are being treated more harshly than three white students who hung nooses from an oak tree on high school property.

The white students were suspended from school but did not face criminal charges. The protesters say they should have been charged with a hate crime.

Bell, now 17, was the only one of the Jena 6 behind bars. His bond previously was set at $90,000.

A district judge earlier this month tossed out Bell’s conviction for conspiracy to commit second-degree battery, saying the matter should have been handled in juvenile court. The 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal in Lake Charles, Louisiana, did the same with Bell’s battery conviction in mid-September.

Prosecutors originally charged all six black students accused of being involved in beating Barker with second-degree attempted murder and conspiracy. Walters reduced charges against at least four of them — Bell, Robert Bailey Jr., Carwin Jones and Theo Shaw — to battery and conspiracy.

Bryant Purvis awaits arraignment. Charges against Jesse Ray Beard, who was 14 at the time of the alleged crime, are unavailable because he’s a juvenile.

Wednesday, Gov. Kathleen Blanco announced that Louisiana State Police officers will protect the families of the Jena 6 and investigate any threats they have received. A white supremacist Web site posted the names and addresses of the six black teens after last week’s march, calling on followers to “let them know justice is coming.”

Thursday, the FBI said it has been made aware of allegations of threats.

“Threats are taken seriously, and as these investigations are ongoing we cannot comment further,” said Sheila Thorne of the FBI’s New Orleans, Louisiana, office.

The December 4 attack on Barker came after months of racial tension, including at least two instances of fighting in the town, sparked originally when three white teens hung nooses from an oak tree on the town’s high school grounds.

Walters has said there was no direct link between the hanging of the nooses and the schoolyard attack, and defended the prosecutions ahead of last Thursday’s peaceful march. Blanco defended the prosecutor Wednesday, saying, “He has a solid record and is highly respected among his peers.”

Walters also addressed the stress and notoriety the town has been subjected to, saying the only way he and other residents “have been able to endure the trauma that has been thrust upon us is through the prayers of the Christian people who have sent them up in this community.”

He also suggested that some kind of “disaster” was averted when thousands of marchers came to Jena last week.

“I firmly believe and am confident of the fact that had it not been for the direct intervention of the Lord Jesus Christ last Thursday, a disaster would have happened,” Walters said.

“The Lord Jesus Christ put his influence on those people and they responded accordingly,” he said, without explaining exactly what he meant.

Soon after the district attorney spoke, a local reverend took issue with his comments.

Obviously, we are serving two different gods here,” the Rev. Donald Sidley said. “My Bible says that we should do — we should be loving, love your neighbor as yourself.

“For him to try and separate the community like he is and then using Christ Jesus to influence the people that Jesus is working on their side, well, that’s — that’s absurd. … God is god of the human race,” said Sidley, of the New Evergreen Church.

Jena 6 DA yields to pressure from Governor

Standard

Photo

 Hat Tip: Doug Simpson, Associated Press

Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco said Wednesday that the prosecutor in one of the so-called “Jena 6″ cases has decided not to challenge an appellate ruling that sends the case to juvenile court.

LaSalle Parish District Attorney Reed Walters had earlier said he would appeal the state appeals court’s decision that 17-year-old Mychal Bell’s second-degree battery conviction be set aside. The court ruled that Bell could not be tried as an adult.

Blanco said she had spoken with Walters and asked him to reconsider pushing to keep the case in the adult courts system. She said Walters contacted her Wednesday to say he had decided not to appeal the ruling.

“I want to thank him for this decision he has made,” Blanco said.

Bell, who remains behind bars, was one of six Jena High School teens arrested after a December attack on a white student, Justin Barker. Five of the six teens initially were charged with attempted second-degree murder, though charges for four of them, including Bell, were later reduced. One teen hasn’t been arraigned, and the case of the sixth, handled as a juvenile, is sealed.

Blanco made her announcement at a news conference with activists Martin Luther King III and the Rev. Al Sharpton. Sharpton said he hopes a bond will be set low enough to allow for Bell’s release, and he thanked Blanco for getting involved in the matter.

“I want to congratulate her for showing leadership,” Sharpton said. “And I want to congratulate the district attorney for good judgment.”

Blanco said Walters gave her permission to announce his decision, and that he planned to discuss his decision publicly on Thursday. A phone call placed at Walters’ home went unanswered Wednesday.

The case brought more than 20,000 protesters to the central Louisiana town of Jena last week in a marched that harkened back to the demonstrations of the 1950s and ’60s.

Critics accuse local officials of prosecuting blacks more harshly than whites. They note that no charges were filed against three white teens suspended from the high school for allegedly hanging nooses in a tree on campus — an incident that was followed by fights between blacks and whites, including the attack on Barker.

Walters has condemned the noose incident — calling it “abhorrent and stupid” in a New York Times op-ed piece Thursday — but said the act broke no Louisiana law.

In the article, Walters defended the aggravated second-degree battery counts most of those charged in the attack on Barker now face. He said Barker was “blindsided,” knocked unconscious and kicked by at least six people, and would have faced “severe injury or death” had another student not intervened.

To the Jena 6: Just hold on, change is coming

Standard

 

Norman Hutchin’s song, “A move of God,” has been in my head all day.

To Mychal Bell,  Robert Bailey, Jr, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, and the other unnamed young brotha, just hold on, change is coming.

“I feel a breakthrough coming your way, it’s a mighty move of God, it’s gonna change your day. With signs and wonders, miracles to perform, God is gonna bless you for just holding on.”

“Just hold on, a change is coming, feel it in the air, it’s in the atmosphere. Just hold on, a change is coming, a move of God is on the way.”

“You’ve been expecting a change in your life, looking for your midnight to turn to sunshine. It’s gonna happen, you wait and see, all things are possible to them that believe.”

“Just hold on, a change is coming, feel it in the air, it’s in the atmosphere. Just hold on, a change is coming…A move of God is on the way.”

Thousands of chanting demonstrators filled the streets of this little Louisiana town Thursday. It's not about black and white. It's about right and wrong. I would like to see these young men set free,

We should have progressed past this kind of unequal treatment based on race; however, we clearly are not. The outpouring of community support in the black community and the dearth of support from others is quite telling.   Katrina became an enduring symbol of neglect and racial indifference and Jena, Louisiana has provided the nation with another.  

There is nothing particularly unique about the disproportionate felony charges meted out to these six teenage boys, this happens everyday to black children somewhere in America, as Al Sharpton has pointed out.  What is unique is the black reaction the racially discriminatory actions of the LaSalle Parish School Board and LaSalle Parish District Attorney provoked.    

Today’s rally was amazing in its genesis and scale, as the song above says, “It’s a mighty move of God, it’s gonna change your day.” I feel confident in predicting that the charges against all six young men will be dropped.  

Praise God for Michael Baisden, Tom Joyner, Howard Witt, Amy Goodman, Roland Martin, Rev.Al, Rev. Jackson, Color of Change, the black blogosphere, and for the many black college students and other concerned persons who raised the alarm to inform the community when it was needed.  

Congresswoman Maxine Waters, on hand for the day’s events, told CNN’s Kyra Phillips that the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to subpoena the LaSalle Parish District Attorney to Washington to explain his conduct and the President himself said that the Justice Department is monitoring this case.  Despite protestations to the contrary, there is a valid reason why Tina Jones, mother of Purvis Bryant, believes that the D.A. is “so adamant about destroying these kids lives.”  I would love to hear his explanation of how a tennis shoe becomes a deadly weapon.   

The idea of a 21st century civil rights movement which focuses on the disproportionate punishment of people of color in the criminal justice system warms my heart.  That’s something that this skeptical brotha can get with enthusiastically.  Much remains to be done and it is not simply a local issue.   I hope that that Congresswoman Waters and Congressman Conyers grasp that a comprehensive solution which addresses the lack of resources for indigent defense is at the root of the harsh and disproportionate treatment that our children and adults face nationwide. 

 

Charges against Mychal Bell overturned in Jena 6 case

Standard

Hat Tip: Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press, USA Today 

NEW ORLEANS — A state appeals court on Friday threw out the only remaining conviction against one of the black teenagers accused in the beating of a white schoolmate in the racially tense north Louisiana town of Jena.

Mychal Bell, 17, should not have been tried as an adult, the state 3rd Circuit Court of Appeal said in tossing his conviction on aggravated battery, for which he was to have been sentenced Thursday. He could have gotten 15 years in prison.

His conspiracy conviction in the December beating of student Justin Barker was already thrown out by another court.

Bell, who was 16 at the time of the beating, and four others were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder. Those charges brought widespread criticism that blacks were being treated more harshly than whites after racial confrontations and fights at Jena High School.

Bell’s attorney Louis Scott said he didn’t know whether his client, whose bond was set at $90,000, would get out of jail immediately.

“We don’t know what approach the prosecution is going to take — whether they will re-charge him, where he would have to be subjected to bail all over again or not,” Scott said.

Civil rights leaders, including the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, had been planning a rally in support of the teens for the day Bell was to have been sentenced.

“Although there will not be a court hearing, we still intend to have a major rally for the Jena Six and now hopefully Mychal Bell will join us,” Sharpton said in an e-mailed statement.

Said Jackson: “The pressure must continue until all six boys are set free and sent to school, not to jail.”

Jena, La., is a mostly white town where racial animosity flared about a year ago when a black student sat under a tree that was a traditional gathering place for whites. A day later, three nooses were found hanging from the tree. There followed reports of racial fights at the school, culminating in the December attack on Barker.

The reversal of Bell’s conviction will not affect four other teenagers also charged as adults, because they were 17 years old at the time of the fight and no longer considered juveniles, said attorney George Tucker of Hammond.

Prosecutors have the option of appealing to the state Supreme Court. District Attorney Reed Walters did not return a call Friday.

Judge J.P. Mauffray had thrown out Bell’s conspiracy conviction, saying it was not a charge on which a juvenile may be tried as an adult. But he had let the battery conviction stand, saying Bell could be tried in adult court because the charge was among lesser charges included in the original attempted murder charge.

Teenagers can be tried as adults in Louisiana for some violent crimes, including attempted murder, but aggravated battery is not one of those crimes, the court said.

Defense lawyers had argued that the aggravated battery case should not have been tried in adult court once the attempted murder charge was reduced.

The case “remains exclusively in juvenile court,” the Third Circuit ruled.

Nawlins update

Standard

Louisiana has a Gubernatorial election this year and the massively incompetent Governor, Kathleen Blanco-D Louisiana, will not be running.    Speculation centered on chocolate city Mayor Ray Nagin to run in her stead, but, he recently announced, after flirting with a run on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show,” that he would not be a candidate after all. 

This means that the right-wing Indian American Congressman, Bobby Jindal R-Louisiana, is the presumptive Governor in waiting.  Tragic. 

 Jalila Jefferson-Bullock

On top of that impending disaster is the announced candidacy of State Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock for a New Orleans State Senate Seat.   Jefferson-Bullock, the daughter of indicted Congressman “Dollar Bill” Jefferson, is following  Daddy’s example and getting her ducks in a row to succeed him if he is sent to the slammer where his black A belongs.

Jefferson-Bullock is a key lieutenent in her Daddy’s political empire, which also includes his wife, and his brother and sister.  Their corruption as a family is legendary.

Jefferson ‘s re-election campaign last year was a classic in southern political demagoguery and dirty campaigning.   He called his black opponent everything but a child of God, even as he defended himself for pocketing bribes obtained in an FBI sting.  He dipped liberally from the well of homophobia and racial antagonism as he accused Karen Carter of being an agent of the white establishment, which is precisely what he had been, when he voted to repeal the estate tax for the wealthiest 1% while black New Orleanianas were washed away by a flood of white establishment indifference.

Nevertheless, God is good and he always has a ram in the bush.  Her name is State Representative Cheryl Gray, a good friend and colleague of Karen Carter, the candidate I backed to run against Dollar Bill last year. 

Campaign News

Sistah Gray is a progressive who has focused on health care and housing issues in the legislature.  She has also opposed shredding a woman’s right to choose and has voted against banning same-sex marriage.   

A lawyer and state representative, she is a scion of the distinguished Gray family and is the daughter of Attorney James Gray and Judge Ernestine Gray.   Cheryl Gray has Skeptical Brotha’s enthusiastic endorsement for State Senate. I’ll take a Gray over a Jefferson any day because our people in the Big Easy need a champion, not more corruption. Its high time for our people to rise up in righteous indignation and throw the Jeffersons out of the temples of power.

Bill Jefferson wants change of venue in corruption trial to D.C.

Standard

Hat Tip: by Allen Lengel, Washington Post

Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), indicted on federal bribery charges, said yesterday in court papers that he did nothing illegal and accused prosecutors of bringing the case against him in Virginia because there would be fewer black jurors.

The motions filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria provided the first look at Jefferson’s defense strategy as he fights a 16-count indictment and asks a judge to dismiss 14 of the charges or move the case to the District.

A federal grand jury indicted Jefferson, the former co-chairman of the congressional caucus on Nigeria and African trade, in June. The congressman faces charges that he used his official position to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes for himself and his family, falsely reported trips to Africa as official business, sought to bribe the former Nigerian vice president, and promoted U.S. financing for a sugar factory in Nigeria whose owner paid fees to a Jefferson family company in Louisiana.

In more than 100 pages of motions, Jefferson’s attorney said the congressman did not bribe the Nigerian vice president, did nothing illegal by getting involved in private business ventures, and declared that the government concocted a flimsy conspiracy charge because the statute of limitations was set to expire on several charges.

The lawyer, Robert P. Trout, noted that the government charged that Jefferson wrote letters, made introductions, and went to meetings and foreign trips to assist businesses to land contracts in Africa.

“In essence, the indictment alleges that Mr. Jefferson was employed to help these businesses and received compensation in return. . . .,” the motion said. “In this regard, it is important to note that it is not illegal — or even a violation of House Rules — for a member to have outside employment.”

Those private business transactions were unrelated to Jefferson’s duties as a member of Congress, the motion said. “Since the bribery case the government has outlined in the indictment does not fall within the four corners of the bribery laws, the bribery related counts indictment should be dismissed.”

The papers also say that the FBI used a cooperating witness to steer the case to Virginia. Blacks account for a smaller proportion of the potential jurors there than in the District, where they make up the majority of the population.

“That venue was selected in the Eastern District of Virginia in order to obtain a jury pool with fewer African Americans,” the motion said, adding: “The court has an obligation to ensure that the forum selection in this case was not tainted by racially discriminatory motive.”

The motion prompted prosecutors to issue a statement yesterday saying that race had nothing to do with their charging decisions.

“The indictment unsealed in June alleges facts supporting jurisdiction and venue in the Eastern District of Virginia. This venue is appropriate as we have indicated in public court filings and as represented by the guilty pleas of two alleged co-conspirators in the Eastern District of Virginia,” said Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd.

The federal indictment is the first in which a U.S. official is charged with violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which bars bribery of foreign officials.

Jefferson, 60, a Harvard Law School graduate, was reelected last year while under investigation. He was the first black congressman elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

The indictment charges that Jefferson used his official position to help iGate, a Kentucky-based high-tech business, sell its technology to provide Internet and cable television in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa. Jefferson, according to the indictment, took kickbacks from the company’s owner for his family and had stock in the company.

During a meeting with an informant wearing a recording device, Jefferson said he would need $500,000 to give to Nigeria’s then-vice president, Atiku Abubakar, to make sure the high-tech venture went through. A short time later, the informant handed Jefferson $100,000 in FBI money that had been photocopied. FBI agents found $90,000 found in a freezer at his Capitol Hill home a few days later.

Jefferson’s attorney argued in the motions that because the money never reached the vice president, no bribe of a foreign official took place.

He also wrote that the bribery statute requires that a politician take something of value in exchange for an official act such as voting or authorizing appropriations:

“There is no allegation in this indictment that Mr. Jefferson solicited anything of value in return for being influenced in any decision in a matter that was or could be pending before him in his capacity as a Member of the United States House of Representatives.”

Southern Political Report

Standard

Complicating Harold Ford, Jr’s nascent bid for the Tennesse Governor’s mansion is the fact that Uncle John, a former state Senator, has been sentenced to 66 months in prison for taking bribes. The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the scoop:  

John Ford sentenced to 66 months in prison

John Ford was sentenced to 66 months in prison this morning for his April conviction of accepting $55,000 in bribes in the FBI’s Tennessee Waltz public corruption investigation.

U.S. Dist. Court Judge J. Daniel Breen carefully noted his interpretation of advisory federal guidelines that suggest enhanced punishment for factors such as the amount and number of bribes, threatening witnesses, acceptance of responsibility and the fact that Ford was an elected official.

The judge said he was not convinced that Ford truly believes he did anything wrong and that the sentence must be a deterrence to others.

“The court is not convinced that a reduction for acceptance of responsibility is warranted in this case,” Breen said. “This trial reflects a person of greed and avarice, but at the same time a man with the ability to help others. This is the tragic dichotomy of this case.

“The sentence, therefore, should reflect the serious nature of this offense.”

Breen said he would impose no fine.

Ford, who showed no reaction to the sentence, will remain free pending notification from the U.S. Bureau of Prisons when and where he will report.

Ford, 65, was one of 12 lawmakers or aides charged in the sweeping statewide investigation, 11 of whom have pleaded guilty or been convicted in trial.

Earlier this morning defense attorney Michael Scholl criticized the media and the government for “the persecution of John Ford” over the years.

“What I have seen is John Ford singled out in all of this,” Scholl told the judge, noting that other legislators have been convicted and faced lighter sentencing. “John Ford could have gone out and robbed and shot somebody and he would be facing less time than he is now. What I want to emphasize here is all the good that John Ford has done. We can’t just wipe out 30 years in the legislature.”

Witnesses have testified that the county has suffered in money it gets from the legislature because Ford is no longer there, Scholl added.

He also issued a plea for the judge to consider Ford’s support responsibilities for seven of his 12 children.

“John Ford has suffered for two years,” Scholl said. “They have taken everything he has. One of the things I’ve seen in this case is the awesome power of the government.”

Federal prosecutor Lorraine Craig said Scholl’s comments reflect the problems that the government has with Ford.

“He has been persecuted? He has suffered?” she said. “Is it a surprise that his family and friends did not see the side that we saw on those (undercover) tapes? This was Mr. Ford, the man who makes the deals. The man who goes first class. That’s the Mr. Ford we saw.”

She said Ford accepts no responsibility for his offense.

“The only thing he says he did wrong was that he trusted too much,” Craig told the judge. “No one persecuted Mr. Ford. He is here in this courtroom because of his own criminal conduct.”

 Speaking of Memphis Politics, Nikki Tinker, the corporate protege of Harold Ford, Jr is ramping up her campaign to take back Tennessee’s Ninth Congressional District for the Congressional Black Caucus against Steve Cohen.  The Memphis Commercial Appeal has the scoop:

WASHINGTON — Nikki Tinker began her 2008 campaign for the 9th Congressional District seat the night she lost the Democratic Party Primary to Steve Cohen last August by just 4,459 votes.

Cohen did too.

Cohen, who is white, says voters in Memphis will consider the job he’s doing rather than his skin color in deciding whether to re-elect him. Meanwhile, he tells anyone who will listen that he votes with the sensitivities of a black woman.

He and others suspect that a recent brouhaha among members of the Baptist Ministerial Association over his support of hate crimes legislation may be the opening salvo in a battle that Tinker would like to have center on, as she puts it, changing “the face and pace of our leadership.”

Tinker did not respond to repeated phone calls for this story, but her Washington-based spokesman, Cornell Belcher, explained Friday that she’s not interested in talking issues or Cohen’s record yet.

“Here’s where we are, to be straight with you: At this point, we want her talking to voters and raising money,” said Belcher, a partner in Brilliant Corners Research and Strategies. Talking about her differences with Cohen “is something that we really would rather not get into right now. … It will come, but it’s just not going to come right now.”

Cohen isn’t waiting. He says he doesn’t know where his opponent stands on most issues, and points out she’s never cast a legislative vote.

Tinker has spoken to the ministerial association and arranged for the company she works for as general counsel to provide a free airplane ride to members of the ministers’ congregations in June — after declaring her candidacy. Pinnacle Airlines flew the group in circles around Memphis on June 23 but, through spokesman R. Phillip Reed Jr., said the flight was “not directly or indirectly associated with the Tinker for Congress campaign.”

The ministers say the hate crimes bill passed by the House would limit what they could say about homosexuality from their pulpits, although the language of the law indicates it won’t. It’s pending in the Senate.

Among those who suspect that politics is involved in the hate crimes issue is Downtown developer Henry Turley, who has been Cohen’s campaign treasurer since he ran for the Shelby County Commission in the late 1970s.

“You can’t help but wonder, is this an effort to discredit Cohen?” Turley said last week. “It certainly makes you wonder since it’s an incorrect or spurious charge. …Why would they make that incorrect statement? … Why would someone say that unless there was an agenda?”

The issue didn’t draw fire during Ford’s terms. Records show Ford co-sponsored the hate crimes bill, broadening federal jurisdiction over crimes motivated by the victim’s sexual orientation, four times between 1997 and 2004 and voted for it in 2005. His stance never made headlines or drew criticism from the churches.

Turley said Tinker’s prodigious fund-raising in 2006 was impressive and he attributed it to two things: the influence of her boss, Philip H. Trenary, CEO of Pinnacle Airlines, and her endorsement by the pro-abortion rights group Emily’s List, whose acronym stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast.

Some in Memphis publicly objected to Tinker receiving the February 2006 endorsement, saying Cohen’s abortion rights bona fides were better established, but hundreds of thousands of dollars poured in for Tinker from across the country.

A spokesman for Emily’s List, Ramona Oliver, said last week that no decision on an endorsement in the 9th Congressional District race has been made.

Cohen acknowledges he’s asked “a few people at the national level” to help derail future Emily’s List endorsement. The group endorses women only.

“I’d be shocked if Emily’s List would get involved in this election,” Cohen said.

African American State Senator Vivian Davis Figures is gearing up to challenge ignorant confederate incumbent U.S. Senator Jefferson Sessions in 2008

MOBILE — Democratic State Sen. Vivian Figures said Saturday she is running against Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions in the 2008 election, pledging to give Alabama “new progressive leadership.”

Figures, 50, made her announcement at Mobile Government Plaza where she began her political career in 1993 on the City Council. She moved from the council into her husband Michael Figures’ legislative seat after his death in 1996 and has served 11 years.

Sessions, 60, also of Mobile, won his second term in 2002 and will seek re-election. No other challengers have announced plans to run.

Senator Figures is delusional if she thinks she can win in Alabama.

Turning to Louisiana, State Treasurer John Neely Kennedy announced his change of party from Democratic to Republican in preparation for a run for U.S. Senate against Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, in 2008:

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA)

BATON ROUGE — State Treasurer John Kennedy has switched political parties and will seek re-election to a third term this fall as a Republican, he announced Monday.

The change immediately vaults Kennedy to the top of the list of potential challengers to U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La, who is up for re-election to a third term in 2008 and is considered vulnerable by national Republicans.

Kennedy has been publicly considering the party switch for months, and he has become an increasingly ascerbic critic of Gov. Kathleen Blanco and the Democratic leaders in the House and Senate on a variety of spending issues. 

In an e-mail message to supporters, Kennedy cited “certain fixed, bedrock principles” that he believes are more in line with the Republican Party than the Democrats, and said GOP officials have been more responsive to his proposals in recent years.

“For the past several years, it has increasingly been the case that those public servants who have embraced my ideas and my philosophy of trying new approaches are primarily Republicans,” Kennedy wrote.

He had been courted to switch parties by U.S. Sen. David Vitter, R-La., and met recently with senior White House aide Karl Rove to discuss the matter.

The switch comes at a time when Republicans are losing ground nationally, having lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in the 2006 mid-term elections, but appear to be ascendant in Louisiana, where U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal, R-Kenner, enjoys a wide lead in the governor’s race.

Louisiana Senator caught up in D.C. madam scandal addresses the media

Standard

David Vitter: Good afternoon. Last week, Wendy and I thought it was very important to have some time in seclusion until the firestorm that erupted over the blatant hypocrisy of preaching family values while simultaneously bedding hookers died, so that’s what we did for a few days. We want to thank the countless friends and fellow citizens who have offered their encouragement and prayers. Those have meant the world to us.

I want to, again, offer my deeply insincere apologies to all those I have let down and disappointed with these actions from my past. I am completely responsible. And I am so very, very sorry I got caught. No matter how long ago it was, I know this has hurt the relationship of trust I’ve enjoyed, and never deserved, with so many of you, and that I have a lot of work to do to rebuild that. I will work every day to pander to the lowest common denominator to rebuild it.

Wendy and I dealt with this personally several years ago when she threatened to castrate me like John Bobbitt. I confronted it in “confession” and “marriage counseling,” while Wendy held a sharp instrument to my crotch.  I believe I received forgiveness from God. I know I did from Wendy because she didn’t castrate me, and we put it behind us-at least I thought we did until my nightmares and night sweats began.

Since then, I’ve gotten up every morning, checking my crotch and the bed only to be relieved that neither is saturated in a pool of blood.  Everything I really believe in kinda centers in my crotch region and if continuing to believe in and acknowledge those values causes some to attack me because of my past failings, well, so be it.

Unfortunately, my admission has encouraged some long-time political enemies and those hoping to profit from the situation to spread falsehoods too, like those New Orleans stories in recent reporting. Those stories are not true-at least that’s what I’ve said in the past and I need to stick to that to cloud the issue.

Now, having said all of this, I’m not going to answer endless questions about it all over again and again and again and again-because then I would inevitably be caught in a tangle of lies. That might sell newspapers, but it wouldn’t serve my family or my political aspirations well at all because I have a lot of important work to do for Louisiana that I didn’t do while indulging my S&M fantasies with hookers on the side and missing Senate votes.

For my part, I’ll be helping finalize a crucial water resources bill to provide much better hurricane and flood protection-what I shoulda been doing instead of calling escort services. I’ll be following up on our demagogic and racist defeat of an immigration bill by working for draconian and unworkable border and workplace security. I’ll be fighting for my political life, undermining liberals and much more.

From here, I’ll go directly to the airport and to Washington for votes, because I’m desperate for this face saving press conference to end. Thank you.

Wendy Vitter: To those of you who know me, are you surprised that I didn’t castrate the bastard? You know, in most any other marriage, this would have been a private issue between a husband and a wife — very private—until he bled to death. Obviously, it is not here.

Like all marriages, ours is not perfect. None of us are. But I have him where I want him now and my lawyer is on speed dial. When I dealt with this privately years ago, and damn near castrated David, I made the decision to turn the tables and assume the power in the marriage. To spare a prick was not the easy choice, but it was and is the right choice for me. David and I are now the best of friends and he better pray it stays that way.

Last week, some people very sympathetically said to me, “I wouldn’t want to be in your shoes right now.” I told the bitches off.  This is the part where I’m supposed to say some politically soothing crap about being proud to be Wendy Vitter and then attempt to invoke sympathy for the ordeal my children have gone through.  I’m just gonna skip it though in the interest of time. 

And now I’m going to attempt to invoke your sympathy for me as a wife and I hope you will understand. It’s been terribly hard to have the media parked on our front lawn and following us every day. And yesterday, the media was camped at our church — at our home, and at our church every day.  So even if I wanted to castrate and kill him for this latest outrage, I would have been caught.

As David returns to his right-wing pursuits and self-promotion in Washington, we’re going to return to our life here. I would ask you very respectfully to let us continue our summer and give us a pass on our obvious hypocrisy, just as we and our media advisors had planned.

Thank you very much

“Dollar Bill” Jefferson sings, “I’m goin’ down”

Standard

 

Sung to the tune: I’m goin’ down by Mary J. Blige 

Time on my hands since Nancy kicked me off Ways and Means
i aint got no place no no no no and the sound of wiretaps against my window pane is slowly is slowly driving me insane.

Chorus:
I’m going down im going down cuz the Feds ain’t messin’ around, baby.  My whole worlds upside down.  I was drivin’ around in a damn tank “checkin my property” while black folks drown.  There’s an “honorable explanation” for $90,000 in my fridge please believe me. Since the FBI raided my crib, everythang been goin wrong. Why did you hafta cop a plea?  Look what you’ve done to me. I cant stop these tears from fallin from my eyes, Oh baby.

I’m going down im going down cuz you ratted me out, baby. My whole worlds upside down, ooh baby im going down going down mmmmm goin down oh i i i i imgoing down (repeat) cuz u ratted me out.,baby, my whole worlds upside down.

Ooooooohhh going down going downnnnn mmmmm ohhhh i don’t know what to do if i ever loose this case u. I’m goin down. Said I be going down ohhh please forgive me baby im so sorry sorry sorry sorry sorry what did i do wrong. Said what did i do wrong please forgive me baby  Goin’ down going down going down mmmmmm.

Breaking News: Congressman Jefferson Indicted

Standard

 Photo

HAT TIP: AP WASHINGTON – Rep. William Jefferson (news, bio, voting record), D-La., was indicted Monday on federal charges of racketeering, soliciting bribes and money-laundering in a long-running bribery investigation into business deals he tried to broker in Africa.

The indictment handed up in federal court in Alexandria., Va., Monday is 94 pages long and lists 16 alleged violations of federal law that could keep Jefferson in prison for up to 235 years, according to a Justice Department official who has seen the document.

Among the charges listed in the indictment, said the official, are racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice, conspiracy and violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case.

Jefferson is accused of soliciting bribes for himself and his family, and also for bribing a Nigerian official.

Hallelujah. Thank You, Jesus!!!!!!!!!!!

The following is the full text of a press release from the U.S. Department of Justice:

United States Congressman William J. Jefferson was indicted today by a federal grand jury on charges including bribery and racketeering for allegedly using his office to corruptly solicit bribes and for paying bribes to a foreign official, Assistant Attorney General Alice S. Fisher of the Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Chuck Rosenberg for the Eastern District of Virginia announced today.

The 16-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., charges Jefferson with solicitation of bribes, honest services wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice, violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, racketeering, and conspiracy. The indictment alleges that from in or about August 2000 through in or about August 2005, Jefferson, while serving as an elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives, used his position and his office to corruptly seek, solicit and direct that things of value be paid to Jefferson and his family members in exchange for his performance of official acts to advance the interests of people and businesses who offered him the bribes.

The things of value allegedly sought and/or received by Jefferson on behalf of his business interests and relatives included hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of bribes in the form of payments from monthly fees or retainers, consulting fees, percentage shares of revenues and profits, flat fees for items sold, and stock ownership in the companies seeking his official assistance.

The official acts allegedly undertaken by Jefferson included leading official business delegations to Africa, corresponding with U.S. and foreign government officials, and utilizing congressional staff members to promote businesses and businesspersons. Business ventures that Congressman Jefferson sought to promote included: telecommunications deals in Nigeria, Ghana, and elsewhere; oil concessions in Equatorial Guinea; satellite transmission contracts in Botswana, Equatorial Guinea, and the Republic of Congo; and development of different plants and facilities in Nigeria.

“The Department of Justice is committed to enforcing the public corruption laws designed to ensure the integrity of our government,” said Assistant Attorney General Fisher. “The Department will continue to hold public officials accountable for corrupt acts such as the bribery schemes outlined in today’s indictment.”

“The schemes charged are complex, but the essence of this case is simple: Mr. Jefferson corruptly traded on his good office, and on the Congress where he served as a Member of the United States House of Representatives, to enrich himself and his family through a pervasive pattern of fraud, bribery and corruption that spanned many years and two continents,” said U.S. Attorney Rosenberg.

“The FBI has made combating public corruption its top criminal investigative priority because American citizens deserve honest and ethical public officials representing their interest,” said Assistant Director Kenneth W. Kaiser, FBI Criminal Investigative Division. “As it is alleged, Congressman Jefferson violated the public’s trust and used his official position and office as a RICO enterprise to corruptly solicit bribes, to pay off a foreign official, and to illegally benefit from overseas business transactions during a five-year period. The FBI will continue to work with our local, state, federal and international partners to combat public corruption across all levels of government as no corrupt public servant is exempt from FBI scrutiny.”

The indictment alleges that Jefferson knowingly conspired with Vernon L. Jackson, a Louisville, Ky., businessman, and Brett M. Pfeffer, a former Jefferson congressional staff member, and others as part of the bribery and corruption scheme. Jefferson allegedly discussed and solicited bribes in return for being influenced in the performance of certain official acts, including receiving things of value from iGate, Jackson’s company. According to the indictment, Jefferson also corruptly sought bribes from an individual identified in the indictment as a Cooperating Witness (CW) to be paid to family members. The indictment alleges, for example, that Jefferson required 5 percent to 7 percent of the CW’s newly formed Nigerian company be given to members of Jefferson’s family in exchange for his assistance. Jefferson allegedly made the request of the CW in December 2004 during a meeting in a congressional dining room.

The indictment further alleges that Jefferson violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by allegedly offering, promising and making payments to a foreign official to advance the various business endeavors in which he and his family had financial interest. Jefferson was allegedly responsible for negotiating, offering and delivering payments of bribes to the official identified in the indictment as “Nigerian Official A.”

According to the indictment, on or about July 18, 2005, Jefferson met with Nigerian Official A at the official’s residence in Potomac, Md., and offered Official A a bribe to induce him to use his position to assist in obtaining commitments from NITEL, the government-controlled main telecommunications service provider in Nigeria. On or before Aug. 3, 2005, at his residence in Washington, D.C., Jefferson allegedly secreted in his freezer $90,000 of the $100,000 in cash provided by the CW as part of the front-end bribe payment to Nigerian Official A. The cash was separated into $10,000 increments, wrapped in aluminum foil, and concealed inside various frozen food containers.

Jefferson faces a maximum of 235 years in prison if convicted on all counts. Jackson was sentenced to 87 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and the payment of bribes to a public official. Pfeffer was sentenced to 96 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery and aiding and abetting the solicitation of bribes by a member of Congress.

The case is being prosecuted by Mark D. Lytle and Rebeca H. Bellows, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Eastern District of Virginia and Trial Attorney Charles E. Duross of the Fraud Section of the Criminal Division at the U.S. Department of Justice. The case is being investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with the assistance of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

Criminal indictments are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.  Yeah, Right. 

Blanco bows out

Standard

Kathleen Blanco, Ray Nagin and President Bush are in the same gumbo on the burner; will someone rise from the stew to save New Orleans?

WWLTV.com Governor Kathleen Blanco has scheduled a major gubernatorial address for Tuesday night at 6:00 p.m. and sources tell Eyewitness News that she will announce her decision not to seek re-election.Blanco requested television time from stations around the state to make an announcement and no official details were released.Blanco had shown up poorly in several preliminary polls but had recently said she planned on seeking re-election.Several challengers had emerged to take on Blanco. Officially announced candidates include U.S. Representative Bobby Jindal, who was defeated by Blanco in 2004; State Senator Walter Boasso of Arabi, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell; the Reverend Raymond Brown, a Democrat and long-time New Orleans activist, New Orleans businessman John Georges and Libertarian T- Lee Horne III of Franklin.

Democrats are  poised to loose another southern Governor’s mansion unless somebody steps up.  Loosing Mrs. Blanco will affect the shape of the recovery of the New Orleans metropolitan area and African American Democrats should be concerned.

UPDATE: Mrs. Blanco has indeed bowed out and I expect the Lt. Governor, Mitch Landrieu, the brother of Senator Mary Landrieu, to run or Former U.S. Senator John Breaux to announce his candidacy.