Richmond set to face Cao for Big Easy Congressional seat

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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. 

 

Nawlins update

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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.

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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.”

New Orleans Cop acquitted of police brutality in beating of black senior citizen

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Hat Tip: Associated Press, NPR’s News andViews blog. 

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AP) – A former police officer accused in the videotaped beating of a man in the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina was acquitted Tuesday by a judge who heard the case without a jury.

“I didn’t even find this a close call,” said District Judge Frank Marullo.

Robert Evangelist, 37, had been charged with beating Robert Davis, 66, during an arrest videotaped by an Associated Press Television News crew the night of October 8, 2005, about six weeks after Katrina.

Evangelist, who elected to have his case heard by Marullo without a jury, pleaded not guilty to second-degree battery and false imprisonment. Marullo acquitted him of both counts.

Marullo watched videotapes of the beating and its aftermath and he noted that Davis could be seen struggling on the tape for several minutes.

“This event could have ended at any time if the man had put his hands behind his back,” the judge said.

Evangelist and Lance Schilling were fired after being accused of the beating. Schilling killed himself June 10.

A third officer, Stuart Smith, was accused of a misdemeanor charge of simple battery against Associated Press producer Richard Matthews. Marullo threw out that charge because prosecutors improperly used a statement he made to police, said Smith’s attorney, Eric Hessler.

Smith served a 120-day suspension and remains on the force.

The officers said Davis, who had returned to New Orleans to check his property, started a confrontation after they stopped him on suspicion of being drunk. Davis, who was booked with public intoxication but never charged, said he hadn’t been drinking.

Davis testified Tuesday that he was headed to buy cigarettes in the French Quarter when he asked a police officer what time a curfew took effect that night. Before the officer could answer, a different officer cut him off, Davis said.

“Those were ignorant, unprofessional and rude officers,” Davis recalled saying as he walked away from the policemen.

Moments later, an officer grabbed him from behind, threw him against a wall and punched his face, Davis testified. His assailant uttered a racial epithet during the attack, he said.

“I don’t remember very much after that point,” Davis said.

Franz Zibilich, one of Evangelist’s attorneys, said his client “acted appropriately and well within police standards.”

Dr. Frances Smith, who treated Davis at an emergency room, testified that he suffered facial fractures. Davis said he still feels lingering physical effects from the attack.

I suppose Lance Shilling killed himself because he knew that some Klansman on the bench would acquit him.