Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Presumption takes second place

Presumption of innocence is an important element of the law, but it must not supercede the trust placed in lawmakers. The Democrats now have a very real challenge to show they are serious about cleaning out the stables:

Allegedly scamming a Virginia businesswoman could prove to be a major mistake for a Democratic congressman from New Orleans.

The FBI revealed Sunday that Rep. William Jefferson, under investigation for bribery, was videotaped accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant whose conversations with the lawmaker also were recorded. Agents later found the cash hidden in his freezer, according to a court document released Sunday.

A major mistake? At a time when his party must show a real determination to address the corruption rampant among lawmakers, even the whiff of scandal is intolerable.

The Jefferson issue has been around for some months now, overshadowed by the antics of the majority members.

Perhaps the Democrats should have moved earlier to quarantine themselves from this scandal. Presumption or not, they must hit the ejection button now.

This is about optics in a supercharged atmosphere of privilege and excess. Public trust should always come before legal niceties and game playing.

Any elected representative who would expose themselves to the degree that an enquiry is called for has crossed the line, regardless of any legal outcome.

More to the point, if the Democrats are to be seen as seriously committed to clearing out the political rot then home is a great place to begin.

As reality-based educator noted here, …at least they can say "Yeah, but once we knew he was dirty, we tossed him out."


Kvatch said...

Though I'm not all that happy with Pelosi at the moment, she's been quite explicit about here feelings toward Jefferson and has acted on them.

Cartledge said...

Thank you kvatch. THe bad news hunter always enjoys the odd bit of positive input.