Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Getting Sloppy with the Race Card

You may remember last year when Louisiana Representative William Jefferson was caught with $90,000 in his freezer. At the time, it was widely suspected that Jefferson was involved in multiple bribery schemes, and that the cash was received as payment for Jefferson's lobbying work in Africa. In fact, an FBI informant testified to Jefferson's acceptance of a $100,000 bribe.

In response to the scandal, Nancy Pelosi admirably moved to strip Jefferson of his role on the House Ways and Means Committee. What's a black man to do when he's caught red-handed in a crime? Most black men own up to their failure and endure the consequences. Some, like Jefferson, play the race card. Said Jefferson about whether his race was a factor in Pelosi's efforts to remove him from Ways and Means: "It's not happened before. The first time it's happening, it's happening to an African-American." That's right, William, you were busted by an FBI informant, you were caught with $90,000 in cash in your freezer, and the Speaker of the House punishes you.....because you're black. According to Jefferson, the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) gave him a standing ovation after he publicly claimed that race was a factor in Pelosi's move.

And I thought the race card was only played against Republicans, but I guess desperate times called for desperate measures. Amazingly, Jefferson was re-elected last year after the allegations surfaced and after 2 of Jefferson's aides plead guilty to their role in the crimes. Apparently the race/victim card still plays well in New Orleans.

I wonder what Jefferson, his fellow CBC members, and New Orleans residents think now that a 16 count indictment has been handed down for bribery, racketeering, money laundering, and obstruction of justice? Does the 94 page indictment have anything to do with Jefferson's skin color? If convicted on all counts, Jefferson faces a maximum sentence of 235 years in prison. Are those sentencing guidelines racially motivated as well?

Congratulations to Speaker Pelosi for taking the high road last year. Shame on Jefferson for not only abusing the power of his office for personal gain, but for stooping so low as to accuse Pelosi of racism.