Paterson waits in the wings to become NY Governor

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Destroyed by hubris and drowning in a tsunami of hypocrisy, the political career and power so craved by Eliot Spitzer slips away into the ether never to be seen again. Into the den of lions steps David Paterson, New York State’s Lieutenant Governor and the first African American and first blind man to hold that position.

On the eve of his inauguration as New York State’s 55th Governor, David Paterson should consider the blueprint of his tri-state neighbor, M. Jodi Rell, Governor of Connecticut. Mrs. Rell was the longtime and longsuffering sidekick to the corrupt Republican megalomaniac, John Rowland, a three term governor. He went to prison having taken kickbacks from contractors doing business with the state.

Mrs. Rell moved quickly and decisively to distance herself from the former governor by endorsing an ethics package of reforms that banned campaign contributions from lobbyists and provided public financing for campaigns. Paterson, if he is smart, will do the same. Governor Spitzer championed limited ethics reform legislation. The crisis will allow Patterson to go much further.

Mrs. Rell established her integrity from the jump, and she gave excellent inaugural and state of the state addresses that branded her as an honest leader worthy of the people’s trust. Moreover, she extended her hand to the other party in a gesture of bipartisanship that won kudos from all. Her approval ratings are the highest on record for a Connecticut governor and she was re-elected in 2006 by a landslide majority.

Paterson, a former State Senator for two decades and Minority Leader of the New York State Senate, is no lightweight. A scion of a political family, his father, Basil Paterson, was a former New York Secretary of State and his son’s predecessor in the New York State Senate. He is well qualified to assume power. Nevertheless, it won’t stop his successor as Lt. Governor, Republican Joe Bruno and a host of others: Mike Bloomberg, Rudy Giuliani, and Andrew Cuomo from trying to knock over a blind man and take his throne.

The Republicans smell blood and are in a feeding frenzy as they consume the carcass of Eliot Spitzer like Sharks on chum. Once he is completely devoured, they’ll start in on Patterson. If Paterson doesn’t move decisively to assert his power and control, he’ll meet the same fate.

One way he could stake out some independence is by abandoning his support of Hillary Clinton. Surely he understands that if he wishes to seek re-election, he must do so with the unanimous support of African Americans. One way to reach blackfolks is by cutting the Empress of Triangulation loose in favor of the man who will be King.

As of this posting, word still hadn’t come from the Governor about a decision regarding resignation. Paterson should use my favorite Jamie Foxx line in “RAY.” Responding to his angry mistress who demanded that he leave his wife for her, Ray says, “You knew what it was before you got into it.” If Paterson still don’t get the answer he wants to hear, he should do as Ray did when a promoter tried to short him on his money: come across the table and whoop dat azz.

Man up. Issue a statement calling for him to resign and take what’s yours. He was man enough to leave the state in your hands to do his ho in peace, why can’t he leave for good, now?

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Breaking: Gov. Spitzer expected to resign; African American to become NY Gov

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New York Lt. Gov. David Paterson

 

Hat Tip: MSNBC

NEW YORK – New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer told senior members of his administration that he was involved in a prostitution ring.

The governor met with his senior aides earlier Monday afternoon after cancelling scheduled events for Monday. The governor may be linked to the prostitution ring through cell phone records, sources told WNBC.com.

Spitzer is expected to make an announcement Monday afternoon.

Spitzer, 48, is married and has three daughters.

Last week, federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed conspiracy charges against four people accusing them of running a prostitution ring that charged wealthy clients in Europe and the U.S. thousands of dollars for prostitutes.

The Web site of the Emperors Club VIP displays photographs of the prostitutes’ bodies, with their faces hidden, along with hourly rates depending on whether the prostitutes were rated with one diamond, the lowest ranking, or seven diamonds, the highest. The most highly ranked prostitutes cost $5,500 an hour, prosecutors said.

Spitzer has built his political legacy on rooting out corruption, including several headline-making battles with Wall Street while serving as attorney general. He stormed into the governor’s office in 2006 with a historic share of the vote, vowing to continue his no-nonsense approach to fixing one of the nation’s worst governments.

Time magazine had named him “Crusader of the Year” when he was attorney general and the tabloids proclaimed him “Eliot Ness.”

But his stint as governor has been marred by several problems, including an unpopular plan to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and a plot by his aides to smear Spitzer’s main Republican nemesis.

Spitzer had been expected to testify to the state Public Integrity Commission he had created to answer for his role in the scandal, in which his aides are accused of misusing state police to compile travel records to embarrass Senate Republican leader Joseph Bruno.

ADDENDUM: The Governor made a statement a few moments ago in which he did not utter the magic words. “I apologize first and most importantly to my family. I apologize to the public to whom I promised better.”

“I have disappointed and failed to live up to the standard I expected of myself. I must now dedicate some time to regain the trust of my family.”

Before the night is over, New York State might have an African American Governor. Fox News is reporting that the Governor will submit his resignation to the New York State Assembly tonight.

 

Giuliani’s Christmas Ad (Revised)

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Copying front runner Mike Huckabee and sinking in national polls like a stone, a desperate Rudy Giuliani came out with his own holiday ad to deceive and reassure gullible Republicans.   

Rudy: There a many things I wish for this Holiday Season.  I wish for peace with strength, secure borders, a government that spends less than it takes in, lower taxes for our business and families, and I really hope that all the presidential candidates can just get along.  

Santa:  Ho, Ho, Ho, I was with ya right up until that last one. 

Rudy:   Can’t have everything. I’m Rudy Giuliani and I approved this message. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.   

This is the parody ad I would have him release.  

Rudy:  There are many things I wish for this Holiday Season.  I wish for another 9/11 to scare the American people into voting for me, a government that spies on its own people, huge tax loopholes for the rich, and I really hope that before Bernie Kerik goes to jail, his mob friends will help me rub out the smug prick with perfect hair, Mitt Romney. 

Judi, the social climbing homewrecker: I wanna be First Lady and America’s Queen. 

Black Santa:  Ho, I was with ya right up until that last one.  

Rudy:  You black bastard, I’ll teach you to never say everything that pops into your head to a white woman.

Rudy’s security team shoots Santa in the back 41 times and calls it justifiable homicide because Black Santa “fit the description.” 

Rudy:  I’m Rudy Giuliani and I enthusiastically approved this gross display of racist police state fascism.  Merry Christmas. Seig Heil.

Kai Franklin to avoid jail

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Hat Tip:  By Alan Judd, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Greenville, S.C. —- In November 2004, Kai Franklin Graham’s life was unraveling.

Her husband of three years was a fugitive from justice, charged with operating a transcontinental drug-trafficking ring. One of his co-defendants —- a potential witness against him —- had been shot to death. Federal agents had searched the Grahams’ $650,000 house in suburban Atlanta. And the mortgage was due.

One day, about two weeks after her husband had fled to California, the oldest of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin’s three children traveled to seven post offices. At each, she bought two $1,000 money orders, a total of $14,000 that she used for house payments. She paid cash.

The money, federal prosecutors said here Monday, came from drug dealing. And the transactions, Franklin Graham admitted to a judge, were designed to evade government reporting requirements that help authorities spot money laundering.

With her mother watching, Franklin Graham, 35, pleaded guilty Monday in a federal courtroom to a single charge of illegally structuring a financial transaction.

“Are you pleading guilty because you are guilty?” U.S. District Judge Henry M. Herlong Jr. asked her.

“Yes, sir,” she said.

Franklin Graham is likely to avoid jail time; her plea agreement calls for her to serve three months of home confinement, followed by three years of probation.

However, “she has to be fully and completely truthful” with federal investigators, Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Moore said.

Otherwise, she could be sentenced to as much as five years in prison and be fined up to $250,000. Herlong is expected to sentence her in 60 to 90 days.

Authorities will ask Franklin Graham about a double homicide in Atlanta that is linked to her former husband, Tremayne Graham, 34.

Graham, whom she divorced in 2005, pleaded guilty to drug charges in 2006. He is serving a life sentence in a high-security federal prison in Kentucky.

Prosecutors have alleged that he ordered the killings of Ulysses Hackett III and his girlfriend, Misty Denise Carter. They were shot to death in Carter’s Virginia-Highland townhouse on Sept. 5, 2004. Hackett was thought to have incriminating evidence against Graham. Atlanta police never solved the case.

Franklin Graham will be asked to disclose what she knows about the killings and other matters, and might have to pass a lie-detector examination.

“We’re going to ask her a number of questions about a number of things,” Moore said outside Greenville’s federal courthouse. “I don’t know what, if any, information she has.”

Her testimony could be important to prosecutors, who might seek a death sentence for Graham or others implicated in the killings.

In court Monday, Franklin Graham was not accused of drug-related offenses.

However, Moore said: “We have looked into all the people who were involved. Not just limited to drug dealers, but people who assisted drug dealers, such as Ms. Franklin Graham.”

More than a dozen people have been convicted for their role in a ring that moved more than 2,200 pounds of Mexican cocaine through Atlanta to South Carolina.

Graham was indicted and arrested in 2004, several months after Hackett was arrested as he delivered cocaine to a “safe house” in Greenville.

On Nov. 12, 2004, 15 days after her then-husband skipped his $400,000 bond, Franklin Graham went to an Atlanta post office and used cash to buy two $1,000 money orders, Moore said in court.

Federal law requires postal officials to tell the Internal Revenue Service about any transaction exceeding $2,000.

Over the next several hours, Franklin Graham visited six more post offices, where she completed identical transactions, ultimately converting $14,000 in cash into money orders. She needed the money orders, Moore said, because her bank would have been required to report a cash payment of more than $10,000.

“This was a clear —- very clear —- transaction,” Moore said later.

The judge asked Franklin Graham whether she had known she was breaking the financial reporting laws.

“Yes,” she said, “in general, your honor.”

“You either did or you didn’t,” Herlong responded.

One of Franklin Graham’s lawyers, Richard Deane, a former U.S. attorney in Atlanta, told Herlong she knew reporting laws existed but not the details.

The guilty plea provided a dramatic coda to a series of indignities for Franklin Graham: personal bankruptcy, forfeiture of her home to the federal government, and the implication that she aided her husband’s drug ring.

Flanked by two lawyers, Franklin Graham stood facing the judge throughout Monday’s 22-minute hearing. Wearing a red turtleneck and black pants, her long, straight hair pulled into a ponytail, she answered Herlong’s questions in a quiet but clear voice.

Her mother watched alone from a second-row bench in the courtroom, her trademark fresh flower in her lapel. Asked outside the courtroom to comment on her daughter’s guilty plea, the mayor politely declined.

Kai Franklin, daughter of Atlanta Mayor, pleads guilty in drug trafficking probe

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Hat Tip:  By Alan Judd, Atlanta Journal Constitution

Greenville, S.C. — A daughter of Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin pleaded guilty today to federal charges that she illegally concealed proceeds from her former husband’s transcontinental drug-trafficking ring.

Kai Franklin Graham, 35, the oldest of the mayor’s three children, pleaded guilty to structuring financial transactions in a way that avoided scrutiny from federal authorities.

 

While her former husband, Tremayne Graham, 34, was a fugitive from justice, she converted cash from him into 14 postal money orders totaling $14,000. She admitted going to seven Atlanta area post offices in a single day to avoid federal financial rules that would require reports of transactions exceeding $2,000.

Franklin Graham is likely to be sentenced to three months of home confinement and three years of probation. However, if she fails to comply with terms of her plea agreement with federal prosecutors, U.S. District Judge Henry M. Herlong Jr. could increase the sentence to as much as five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Herlong will formally sentence Franklin Graham in 60 to 90 days.

The mayor sat in a federal courtroom in Greenville this morning and watched as her daughter entered the plea. She declined to comment afterward.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Moore said Franklin Graham is expected to cooperate in several aspects of an investigation into her former husband’s drug business, which moved at least 2,200 pounds of Mexican cocaine from Los Angeles through Atlanta to South Carolina.

He said authorities will question her about a double homicide in Atlanta linked to the case. One of the victims, Ulysses Hackett III, was a co-defendant of Tremayne Graham’s and was thought to be considering an offer to testify against him in exchange for a lenient sentence.

A federal grand jury in South Carolina indicted Tremayne Graham in April 2004 in the drug case, which has resulted in more than a dozen guilty pleas. While he was out of jail on a $400,000 bond, Hackett and his girlfriend, Misty Denise Carter, were shot to death in her Virginia-Highland townhouse.

Atlanta police never solved the case, but federal prosecutors have alleged Graham ordered the killings.

According to earlier testimony, Graham then told an associate that he had moved into the mayor’s house, hoping to signal he feared he, too, would be killed. Soon, he fled to California. From there, authorities allege, he sent couriers with bags of cash to his wife.

Although Franklin Graham pleaded guilty to financial transactions conducted on Nov. 12, 2004, Moore said in court that the government could have proved that she engaged in additional transactions to hide the source of her cash.

Franklin Graham filed for divorce in January 2005.

Authorities captured Graham in June 2005 in California. Prosecutors later alleged he lied about his former wife’s role in his drug business ” one factor that prompted the judge to impose the maximum sentence against him: life with no chance of parole.

Must be nice to have Mama’s pull when you’re jammed up in a drug sting.  If it was you or me, they woulda charged us as accessories and sent us up for a cool quarter-mandatory.  That’s 25 years, for all y’all who ain’t know.

Harold Ford Jr, Prince of Tennessee

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The flag of Tennessee

Like an apocalyptic vision, I have been tormented by the frighteningly real prospect that the man I have referred to as the Dark Sith, the Whore, and the Anti-Christ, is once again on the make. And, like Revelations teaches, once that evil is unleashed, ain’t nothing or nobody safe.

Tennessee is a small, benighted, southern backwater that has always been ruled by a corporate oligarchy of rapacious capitalists. Three sons of Tennessee have assumed the nation’s highest office and all have been significant historical figures in their individual capacities. They are Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson, each a more dangerous fascist war hawk than the last.

This year, another son of Tennessee is running for President, and no, I am not referring to former Senator Fred Thompson or former Vice President Al Gore. I am talking about Harold Ford Jr, the new Prince of Tennessee, now that Al Gore has so unmistakably abdicated his title and the throne that went with it.

Ford is planning to make one last stab at capturing the imperial throne of the presidency and the first step on this long march to power is the Governorship of the Volunteer State. Two of Tennessee‘s Presidents have used the office of governor as a stepping-stone toward national office. All three manipulated the levers of power and were the willing facilitators of the aristocratic South’s class war to defend white supremacy and preserve slavery.

In this respect, Harold Ford Jr is no different. A corporate whore with no peer, Harold Ford Jr plays the political game with the gusto and virtuosity of a chess master. One only had to watch the brotha work as his 2006 Senate Campaign Chairman, Congressman Lincoln Davis, stabbed him in the back and announced his 2010 candidacy for Governor on October 8, 2007. Davis was quoted as saying to the Associated Press “I don’t think (Ford) is going to run because I would imagine that if I’m in the race, he’ll step aside.”

Bullshit.

The same article said, “an advisor to Ford and the head of the Tennessee Democratic Party confirmed that Ford is “seriously considering” a run to succeed Governor Phil Bredesen in 2010.” Two days later Davis abruptly reversed course and announced that his “immediate focus will be on working every day for the people of the 4TH district.” The Associated Press summed up by saying Davis said he remains interested in running for governor, but will wait to make a decision later.”

Throughout this whole spectacle, Harold Ford Jr didn’t say a mumblin’ word and dispatched his rival with a thoroughness and skill rarely displayed by someone of his age. His corporate contributors have invested much into his corporate friendly political career and they are intent on recouping their investment by making him governor and subsequently making him President.

In the furtherance of this presidential objective, Ford has taken great pains since his 2006 loss to locate himself at the nexus of financial and political power by taking positions at both Merrill Lynch and as Chair of the Democratic Leadership Council. In August, he and Governor Martin O’Malley wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post beseeching their party’s presidential candidates not to forsake the “center” which is code for not forsaking the corporate agenda of continued globalization, privatization of public assets, and imperialism. O’Malley-Ford sounds like a future Democratic ticket if you ask me.

Back home in Tennessee, there will be some competition from the GOP for the gubernatorial throne in the form of former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who retired from the Senate to run for President. Too bad for him that his candidacy withered on the vine of wingnut indifference. Two Thousand and Ten is an opportunity to revive his career and reach for the brass ring again, just as it is for Harold. I promise you that this will be the race to watch.

As a DLC acolyte wedded to war and eliminating estate taxes for the wealthiest among us, Ford has been a Negro cog in a Democratic machine of deceit. He has been a vocal supporter of sitting Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen, a former HMO executive, and corporate pedophile, who pimps the plight of uninsured children as a ruse to slash the state’s Medicaid caseload by over 200,000 people in a corporate jihad on behalf of the HMO’s, thus jeopardizing health care access for everyone, rationing health care access to the state’s poorest and most vulnerable, and disproportionately impacting the health care of African Americans negatively.

As you know, while not actively participating in the classist and racist destruction of health care access for the African American community, Ford comes from a black political dynasty headed by his father, Harold Sr, who aggressively sought to loot the program before its ignominious demise. This makes Prince Harold guilty by association.

Writing about this for the first time last year in the post Jake Ford, Tale of a Puppet, I said, You see, Mr. Harold is a lobbyist of high standing, having turned to the profession after two decades in Congress and a perilous brush with a fraud indictment. In a short space of time, Harold, Sr. has made untold millions while conspiring with his clients to loot TennCare, Tennessee’s formerly world class, top-shelf medicaid program.

“According to an article in the Commercial Appeal by Marc Perrusquia, TennCare subcontractor MIM Corp paid Harold, Sr. $1.6 million between 1998 and 2001. In addition, he received more than $1 million in lobbying fees from other firms and MIM corp to look after their interests in Nashville.”

“Mr. Harold or surrogates, Harold, Jr. or Newton conspired to contribute more than $15,000 to state politicians with a say on gutting TennCare, a program that serves 40% of the African American population and 50% of our children. In addition, two of the crooked black politicians who were caught up in the Tennessee Waltz bribery scandal received contributions from Ford.”

The Governor received $ 12,500 from Harold,Sr., Harold, Jr., and Newton “Jake” Ford. 114 contributions totalling over $206,000 flowed to the Governor’s campaign coffers from Health Care affiliated interests, which in turn, were handed a big payoff in the form of TennCare’s destruction.”

TN State Senator John Ford, Harold, Sr’s. brother, also received a contribution of $1,000 from his brother. In addition, Senator Ford pocketed over $237,000 from a TennCare dental health care provider, in a separate side deal apart from Harold, Sr. and Jake’s hustle.”

John Ford went on to be indicted and convicted by the feds for an unrelated bribery scheme and now faces charges for the aforementioned chicanery. Calls surreptitiously recorded by federal investigators had Mr. Harold warning his brother that what he was doing was highly improper and would get his black behind locked up. He didn’t listen. After beating two federal prosecutions for bank fraud, Harold Sr. knows exactly what not to do. Some Negroes think they are untouchable and never learn, as two of Mr. Harold’s politician brothers who got locked up can attest. Others listen to what their Daddy has to say and take copious notes.

Without a political godfather like Mr. Harold to guide him Barack Obama’s ill timed presidential bid is imploding because of a series of arrogant missteps and the deleterious effects of his vacuous rhetoric. It is clear that he will never be President and that Prince Harold knows this too, uses his DLC chairmanship as an excuse not to endorse him, and is positioning himself for his own run in the future.

In the final analysis, Harold Sr and Harold Jr operate on a different level than their kith and kin and are the skillful practitioners of a corporate friendly influence peddling that will always steer clear of illegality and be one step ahead of clever and one notch below that of blackface minstrelsy. It’s enough to make Mr. Harold a black kingmaker and possibly the father of the first black President of the United States.

Stopping Tennessee’s crown prince of deception should be the first priority of black progressives everywhere. However, with his engagement to Snow White on tap, he might have already done our jobs for us. Only time will tell. Expect to see an elaborate roll out of professional PR touting this twosome and don’t be surprised if you see them on Montel or some such program cooing and cuddling and whispering sickening platitudes about family, home and hearth. Any day now I expect the future Mrs. Ford will be wearing a conservative string of pearls and be attired immaculately in an age appropriate and politically correct Donna Karan ensamble. Whatever happens, Harold Ford Jr is on a collision course with the aspirations of the black community and we all stand to loose if he wins.

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.”