Furious black lawmakers, rallying behind Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), were pulled back from the brink of open revolt against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) in an emergency meeting with her yesterday.
The meeting with a handful of CBC members was called after Pelosi wrote the embattled lawmaker, who is at the center of a massive bribery scandal, a curt note requesting his immediate resignation from the powerful Ways and Means Committee.
Outraged that one of its members was being picked on even though he has not been charged with a crime, the Congressional Black Caucus had intended to issue a defiant statement against their leader but agreed after the meeting to pause, at least briefly, for reflection.
Earlier this week, Pelosi approached Jefferson and told him that she thought he should resign, according to a Democratic aide. Later, at the Democratic caucus meeting yesterday morning, she took him into a side room and told him that she had prepared a letter calling on him to resign the committee seat and that she would allow him one hour to withdraw gracefully before she sent it, according to the aide. In both instances, Jefferson remained defiant.
Yesterday's CBC meeting with Jefferson was well-attended, drawing nearly all of the caucus's heavyweights — Ways and Means ranking Democrat Charles Rangel (N.Y.), Judiciary Committee ranking Democrat John Conyers (Mich.) and Democratic Caucus Chairman James Clyburn (S.C.).
Most lawmakers would not comment afterwards, but a CBC aide summed up some members' frustration, saying, "Congresswoman Pelosi, by preemption without any legal justification, has now created a new precedent for how members are going to be treated. Unfortunately, she's chosen to single out an African-American for this honor."
Then the aide added an electoral threat, saying, "The African-American community, which overwhelmingly backs the Democratic Party, will not take this lightly. I hope she enjoys being minority leader."
Clyburn, who is both a member of the CBC and the third-ranking member of House Democratic leadership, was circumspect yesterday when asked whether Jefferson should step down.
"The leader speaks for the party," Clyburn said. "If that's what she feels, that's what she feels. If that's what [Jefferson] feels, that's what he feels. We all have to live with the consequences of our actions."
Absent from the CBC meeting was Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), who has had an interest in securing a seat on the Ways and Means Committee. His spokesman said he had no comment.
"Congressman Jefferson is a friend. [Davis] admires his work during his time in Washington and doesn't feel it is appropriate to comment now," the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Pelosi and House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) called in a joint statement for the Justice Department to return the records taken in the search of Jefferson's office.
Uh, folks, he had $90K in his freezer and a videotape showing him taking the money. You really want to wait for a court for him to quit?
Look, I didn't like it when bloggers jumped all over McKinney on the word of the capitol police, who seem to have different standards for black congresswomen and drunk Irish Congressmen. But this is way different.
Jefferson took two National Guard trucks which could have been saving New Orleanians to save his "luggage". God know what he had inside. If the CBC thinks people outside of the Hill gives a shit about Jefferson, they're insane. Black America has been plagued with corrupt leaders and they belong under the jail. When people lack resources and means, the last thing they need is someone sticking their hand out for payoffs.
They need to stop protecting their buddy and stop handing talk radio the next Willie Horton. Many of these same people were quick to leave Cynthia McKinney to her own devices with no evidence, yet, here the man is caught with $90K in his fucking freezer and now they want to hold a temper tantrum. I'm sure black voters will suborn their interests to save William Jefferson. That kind of insane threat could only fool white people who think blacks don't vote for their own self-interest
Anyone ever think that if Harold Ford didn't run for the minority speaker's job she just might have had better relations with the CBC?
Regardless, some asswipe of an aide making some threat which is impossible to carry out only seems like the act of a petulant child. People's kids are dying in Iraq and you want to defend a man caught with $90K in his freezer because Nancy Pelosi did the right thing?
First of all, he won't cooperate with the FBI, forcing their hand. Now, he wants to drag the CBC into this. When will you folks realize you're being played. When he was sucking up to the DLC he wasn't so concerned about black people, now that he's facing years in jail, unless he's got a receipt for that $90K in his freezer, he's H.Rap Jefferson. Now he wants to drag down the whole party to save his own ass.
That alone should cost him his Ways and Means seat. And part of the reason they're in this mess is because of Harold Ford and Albert Wynn playing cute with conservatives. It's clear that not everyone believes in unity, so Pelosi can do this. They created this situation on their own.Now they want to whine a black man was chosen first? Uh, Tom DeLay is resigning after being defended by the GOP caucus for months. Pelosi has a great issue in that, hell, Hastert is now being investigated by the FBI for his own Abramoff issues. Jefferson's color is green, not black.
But William Jefferson,who took a lifetime of good fortune and squnadered it, is now hellbent on saving himself at any price.
What would two more years of a GOP Congess mean? More dead in Iraq. Slowed reconstruction in New Orleans. More civil rights violated. Why should my future hinge on your grudge with Nancy Pelosi. If you win, you can vote against her for Speaker. She won't be running for that unchallenged.
Someone should ask this aide if Jefferson's hurt feelings are worth all that.
It's really simple: I hate crooked pols.Now, I don't know if Jefferson is a crook, but he doesn't look innocent and because of that, he needs to defend himself and stop hiding behind the CBC like a little bitch.