William J. Jefferson

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William J. Jefferson
U.S. Representative – LA-02
Image:Rep. Bill Jefferson.jpg
Party Democratic
Assumed office

January 3, 1991

Preceded by Lindy Boggs
Committees

none

Born March 14, 1947
Spouse Andrea Jefferson
Religion Baptist

William Jennings Jefferson, a Democrat, represented the second Congressional district from Louisiana and is the first African American elected to Congress from Louisiana since recontruction. Jefferson leads the African Caucus in the U.S. House of representatives and is a leading authority on African trade issues.

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Background

Born March 14, 1947, Representative Jefferson is the first African-American to be elected to Congress in Louisiana since Reconstruction.

A lifelong resident of Louisiana, Congressman Jefferson is a graduate of Southern University A&M College and of Harvard University Law School. In February of 1996, Jefferson received his Master of Laws in Taxation from Georgetown University.

Prior to his service in Congress, Congressman Jefferson was elected to three terms in the Louisiana State Senate and served on the State Bond Commission, the Senate Finance Committee, and served as Chairman of the Senate and Governmental Affairs Committee. As a State Senator, he was twice named, “Legislator of the Year” by the prestigious Alliance for Good Government.

Congressman Jefferson’s public service also included a stint as an officer in the Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps; as law clerk to the late Honorable Alvin B Rubin of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana; and as legislative assistant to U.S. Senator J. Bennett Johnston. [1]

Bribery Scandal

According to facts set out in a guilty plea by Brett M. Pfeffer to charges of bribery of a public official and conspiracy, Jefferson agreed to assist officials from Nigeria and the ExportImport Bank in return for: a) legal work directed to Jefferson's family, b) putting a daughter on retainer to the Virginia firm acting as intermediary for as much as $5,000 a month and c) 5% to 7% ownership interest in the operation. Source: Ralph Vartabedian. "Former Aide's Guilty Plea Implicates Congressman." Los Angeles Times. January 12, 2006.

On May 17, 2006, the House Ethics Committee announced they were opening an investigation into the corruption charges, concurrent with a similar investigation of Ohio Republican Robert W. Ney.

On June 4, 2007, Jefferson was indicted by a federal grand jury.

Search warrant

On May 20, 2006, the FBI executed a search warrant on Jefferson's Congressional office in the Rayburn Building, setting off what some have characterized as a constitutional crisis. The raid created bipartisan dismay in the Congress, particularly the House of Representatives.

At issue is Article I, Section 6 of the US Constitution, where it says of members of Congress that for any speech or debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other place. This is at the heart of the doctrine of Congressional immunity and the separation of powers. Argueably, Congressional immunity extends to the papers of a member, particularly those in his Capitol Hill office used directly in his "speech or debate" in his chamber.

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller are said to have threatened to resign unless the warrant was supported. This put the President between a rock and a hard place, with the result that, on May 25, 2006, he embargoed the seized material for 45 days. The last thing the involved parties want is for a court challenge: the Congress does not want to risk seeing the administration's view prevail; neither does the President want to see the Supreme Court affirm the Congress's view.

Amid growing corruption allegations, Jefferson lost his bid for re-election in 2008 to Joseph Cao.

On August 5, 2009, Jefferson was convicted of corruption, and on November 13, 2009, sentenced to 13 years.

Committees

  • Ways and Means Committee (removed from Committee due to bribery scandal)

Caucuses

  • Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation
  • Co-Chair of the Africa Trade and Investment Caucus
  • Congressional Caucuses on Brazil and Nigeria

Awards

  • “Maritime Service Award” by the Washington, D.C. Propeller Club ~ 2004
  • “Legislator of the Year” by the Information Technology Industry Council (ITIC)
  • “Spirit of Enterprise” Award
  • “2002 Distinguished Service Award” from the Washington International Trade Association
  • New Orleans Magazine’s 2002 Iberville Award for his advocacy of the Port of New Orleans [2]

Contact

Washington DC Office
2113 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-6636
Fax: (202) 225-1988

New Orleans Downtown Office
1012 Hale Boggs Federal Building
500 Poydras Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
Phone: (504) 589-2274 Fax: (504) 589-4513

Jefferson Parish-Westbank Office
Jefferson Parish General Government Bldg
Suite 3200
200 Derbigny Street
Gretna, LA 70053
Phone: (504) 368-7019 Fax: (504) 263-1285

GovTrack link

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