Jefferson Movin' On Out?
Embattled Louisiana Rep. William Jennings Jefferson is digging in his heels after his Democratic House colleagues voted 99-58 last night to oust him temporarily from his coveted seat on the powerful Ways and Means Committee over accusations that he accepted $100,000 in bribes to further a company's interests in Africa.
"I stand firm in my position that this move is unprecedented, unfair in process and most importantly, it unjustly punishes my constituents," said the eight-term congressman in a statement shortly after the vote. Jefferson is the target of a federal investigation on the matter, but he has not been indicted and maintains his innocence.
Just before the three-hour caucus meeting convened, Jefferson did offer to step down from the committee on two conditions: that House Democrats impose an across-the-board rule that any member under investigation be asked to step down from a similar committee, and that his Ways and Means seat be given to fellow Louisiana Democrat Charlie Melancon. Pelosi rejected the proposal.
"It's very sad. But our House Democratic Caucus is determined to uphold a high ethical standard. We said it, and now we are doing it," Pelosi said after the vote. "This isn't about proof in a court of law. It's about an ethical standard ... what is acceptable public behavior for a public servant."
The caucus vote does not automatically remove Jefferson from the committee. The next step is a full vote on the House floor, unless Jefferson steps down voluntarily before then. CNN's Deirdre Walsh reports that when asked if that would happen, his spokeswoman Melanie Roussell said, "No, it will be on the floor."
***Iraq the Vote
The House resumed debate Friday morning on a resolution that labels the Iraq war part of a global fight on terrorism and says an "arbitrary date for the withdrawal or redeployment" of troops is not in the national interest. Members debated the issue until midnight last night, and vote is expected later this morning. Stay tuned to CNN and CNN.com for the latest developments.
***You Heard it Here First: The Next President Will Probably Be Loaded
This may not come as a shock to you, but a review of Senate Financial Disclosure documents released this week (yes, we're still looking at these blasted things) confirms what we all suspected: the next President of the United States will probably have deep pockets.
At least eight of the ten 2008 presidential hopefuls who currently work in the U.S. Senate are millionaires. We use the mushy qualifier "at least" because the statements only require senators to state their wealth in very broad ranges, and do not require them to report the values of certain big-ticket assets, like their primary residences.
Nonetheless, the following would-be presidents currently toiling away in the Senate fall somewhere in the range of "rich" and "very rich":Evan Bayh (D-Indiana)
Estimated net worth: $1,954,000 to $6,360,000
Hillary Clinton (D-New York)
Estimated net worth: $10,045,000 to $50,235,000
John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)
Estimated net worth: $158,691,000 to at least $241,590,000
George Allen (R-Virginia)
Estimated net worth: $1,828,000to at least $3,845,000
Sam Brownback (R-Kansas)
Estimated net worth: $2,313,000 to $9,095,000
Bill Frist (R-Tennessee)
Estimated net worth: $12,660,000 to at least $46,715,000
Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska)
Estimated net worth: $2,183,000 to $7,495,000
John McCain (R-Arizona)
Estimated net worth: $13,875,000 to at least $23,085,000
There are additional millionaires in the rest of the 2008 field, including former Sen. John Edwards (D-North Carolina), who doesn't have to fill out these reports anymore, but had an estimated net worth between $12.8 million and $60 million when he was in office.
Mayor Bloomberg Is At It Again
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) wined and dined members of the Democratic National Committee's convention site committee last night at Rockefeller Center's Top of the Rock in an effort to woo yet another national political convention to the Big Apple. The DNC site committee members also toured Madison Square Garden, the site of the 2004 Republican National Convention, before sitting down with the likes of former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo (D), former NYC Mayor David Dinkins (D), Barbara Walters and Charlie Gibson of ABC News fame, and others for dinner and a presentation. New York City is also on the short list to host the Republican convention in 2008. The Democratic convention will be held August 25-28, 2008; the GOP convention will be held September 1-4.