Kevin Drum is right: Having been caught on videotape taking packages of $100 bills, and having $90,000 in $100s found inside his freezer in an FBI raid, Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana must quit.
But he probably won’t.
Then it will be up to his Democratic colleagues to show that they aren’t as tolerant of corruption as the Republicans. They can expel Jefferson from the Democratic Caucus and thereby strip him of his committee assignments. And Howard Berman, as the new ranking Democrat on House Ethics, can demand immediate hearings on the question of Jefferson’s expulsion from the House.
(Actually, they probably wouldn’t have to follow through; a convincing threat of expulsion would likely induce Jefferson to do the right thing.)
Of course Jefferson’s corruption can’t hold a candle to either the DeLay/Abramoff connection or the Cunningham/Lewis/God-knows-who-else connection to crooked defense contractors. But it’s important for the Democrats in the House to demonstrate that they aren’t as tolerant of corruption as their counterparts across the aisle.
The difference between Blue Blogistan’s reaction to Jefferson and Red Blogistan’s reaction to DeLay is encouraging. Jefferson is getting precisely zero support. But we need some follow-through from our elected officials.
If we want the voters to perceive a difference between the parties, there needs to be a difference.