William Jefferson, who represents New Orleans in the House of Representatives, has more political lives than a cat.
Jefferson has been under a cloud of scandal since 2005. That summer, as part of an FBI sting operation, he was caught on wiretap making a deal to accept $100,000 in cash from a woman so he could bribe officials in Nigeria and help her with a business venture there. The transfer of the cash to Jefferson was caught on an FBI video camera. Several days later, the FBI raided his home, and found $90,000 in cash in the kitchen freezer. (I once called Jefferson “the Iceman.”)
Jefferson, who serves in Congress from Louisiana’s 2nd House district, had a seat on the powerful Ways and Means committee at the time. But Democrats in the House removed him from the committee when the scandal broke, to the objection of some members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Jefferson then shocked everybody by running for re-election in 2006… and winning. He faced 12 opponents that year in the primary, who split the vote; he and another candidate who got the most votes wound up in a run-off election, which Jefferson won. Many feel that Jefferson got a post-Katrina sympathy vote, with many New Orleans voters feeling the government had set him up.
Jefferson was indicted in 2007 on 16 counts related to the alleged bribery. His trial is expected to begin in December.
But that didn’t stop Jefferson from running again this year. This time, he faced six Democrats on primary election day, which was on October 4. None of the candidates got 50%, but Jefferson led everyone with 25 percent of the vote. He will now go into a runoff with former broadcaster Helena Moreno, who got 20 percent of the vote. Moreno is Hispanic; all the other candidates were African American, and they apparently split the black vote.
The runoff will be held on national election day, November 4.
Note: A more pointed review of Jefferson’s election run is at the Skeptical Brotha blog in the post Jefferson Faces Latina in Run-off.