Rep. William Jefferson, as Ricky Ricardo would say, “has some ‘splainin’ ta do”… mostly to members of Congress whose nerves he’s rattled like maracas on a trampoline.

First the Louisiana Democrat was videotaped accepting a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant, his home was raided, $90,000 was found in his freezer, then his congressional office was raided. Until we reached the latter, everything was business-as-usual with how Congress viewed all this.

For the first time in history, a lawmaker’s office was raided. Yes, the first time in history. This has to be causing some members of Congress to have a serious case of the runs. Think of all the scumbags, crooks, liars and cheats that have been in Congress throughout the course of history, and none of them have had their offices subjected to a raid? As a result of this unprecedented enforcement of the law on the heretofore untouchable and pristine self-perceived Monarchs, members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are circling the wagons – or at least crashing them into police cruisers while trying to circle them.

Both parties would have also defended Jim Traficant, Dan Rostenkowski, and others, but only if their offices were raided. They weren’t, so off to jail they went.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Republican James Sensenbrenner, is conducting a probe into whether or not the raid on Jefferson’s office was justified.

This alone is a telling example of how separated Congress is from the laws that the rest of us must live under. A congressman’s office is way off limits to search and seizure, but what if you were taped accepting a bribe and cops found $90,000 in your freezer? Not only would your office would be raided while investigators ate the fish sticks they found next to the money, but they’d raid the office next to yours, your boat, your car, your body cavities, and then you’d be thrown in jail to await your trial ten months from now.

Congress is on thin ice with this one, and is bound to lay a good smackdown on Jefferson if it is found that the raid on his office was completely legal and justified. In the world you and I live in, this would be a no-brainer, but in Congressional la-la-land, this is an unprecedented invasion of privacy. The odds that a Congressional investigation finds that the raid and seizure of material from Jefferson’s office was justified are about the same as Anna Nicole Smith’s baby growing up well adjusted.

Complicating matters were top officials at Justice and the FBI who threatened to resign if President Bush ordered them to return material taken from Jefferson’s office during the raid. Bush never gave such an order, and now the congressional squirming continues.

Congress is ticked at Jefferson, not because he took a bribe, but because he may have helped set a precedent that could endanger the glass house in which all members of Congress live, and Bush isn’t doing anything about it. There are those who want to impeach Bush for all sorts of things related to the war, wiretapping, etc., but when he refuses to protect the august body that is the U.S. Congress, he may have signed his own impeachment warrant.

James Sensenbrenner is the proper “go to” guy as far as Congress is concerned when it comes to an investigation of the investigators, since he has a proven track record of trying to see to the survival of Congress. Remember the Sensenbrenner-sponsored “Continuity in Representation Act“? This ensures that, in the event of almost any disaster, Congress will be one of the two things that will certainly survive – then they’ll debate exactly how to go about taxing cockroaches. 

The Act, known as the “Sensenbrenner Bill”, ensures the survival of Congress even in the event of terror attacks, nuclear attacks and natural disasters – everything except police raids on their offices. If the latter is allowed to continue, before you know it, Congress could be almost like ::gulp:: regular people.

If William Jefferson is let to slide by Congress, it will be a visible symptom of “there but for the grace of God” syndrome.

Watch this debate carefully. The members of Congress sweating the most over the raiding of Jefferson’s office are probably the ones who have recently “defrosted” their own freezers.


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