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Inside Politics

Dem tied to bribery probe gets homeland post

Story Highlights

• NEW: Pelosi: Homeland Security Committee "appropriate" for lawmaker
• Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson investigated for bribery months ago
• He allegedly accepted money from an FBI informant; he is not charged
• Investigators found $90,000 in cash in a freezer in Jefferson's home in 2005
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Eight months after Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson was ousted from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee for allegedly chilling stacks of dubious cash in his freezer, his Democratic colleagues voted to give him a seat on the Homeland Security Committee.

The House Democratic caucus approved Speaker Nancy Pelosi's appointment Tuesday of Jefferson to the homeland security panel, a decision that has come under fire from Republicans.

After the meeting, Jefferson said the vote was "not contentious" and that there was "no dissent."

Pelosi also said the homeland security panel "is an appropriate place for him to be," given its jurisdiction over matters related to Hurricane Katrina, which devastated Jefferson's New Orleans-area district.

In June, Pelosi moved to strip Jefferson of his assignment on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee after federal prosecutors revealed $90,000 in cash had been found in the congressman's freezer in August 2005.

The money was divided among various frozen food containers, according to a heavily redacted affidavit on the case. (Read the full story)

Soon after Jefferson was stripped of his position on the committee, he accused Pelosi of "singling" him out, using his troubles for political gain. "[Pelosi] believes that it gives her a political advantage in this set of elections," he said. "She hopes that out of this she'll be speaker of the House one day, if the Democrats can take charge." (Read full story)

Jefferson allegedly accepted the money from an FBI informant as part of a bribery investigation. The Justice Department has been investigating Jefferson's relationship to telecommunications deals in Africa and elsewhere.

A Kentucky businessman and a former Jefferson aide have pleaded guilty to corruption charges in connection with the investigation and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

The allegations against Jefferson, which came in the heat of the midterm election campaign, presented a dilemma for Democrats who were castigating House Republicans for tolerating a "culture of corruption."

Jefferson has denied wrongdoing and has not been charged.

In December, he won a ninth term in office after a hard-fought runoff election.

The ranking Republican on the Homeland Security Committee, Rep. Peter King of New York, has criticized Pelosi's selection of Jefferson.

He said the decision sends "a terrible message."

CNN's Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.


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Louisiana lawmaker William Jefferson will be on the Homeland Security Committee despite being investigated for bribery eight months ago.

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