The House of Representatives is off for its August recess, but the news, or at least the innuendo and speculation, never takes a vacation. This morning brings suggestions of corruption on both sides of the aisle -- and for once, none of it involves Tom DeLay.
FBI agents served search warrants Wednesday in an investigation that involves, in one way or another, Rep. William Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana. And when we say "search warrants," we mean "search warrants." Federal agents searched Jefferson's car, his homes in New Orleans and Washington and the home and office of Jefferson's campaign treasurer. As the Times-Picayune observed this morning, "The scale of the raids was startling even for New Orleans, a city well acquainted with political corruption probes." Although Jefferson's office says the congressman doesn't know "the extent or the precise nature" of the investigation, sources tell the Washington Post that Wednesday's searches are part of an ongoing criminal investigation into whether Jefferson used his congressional influence in business dealings.
Meanwhile, as Raw Story notes, Vanity Fair is out with a feature on former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds. In the Vanity Fair piece, writer David Rose says that Edmonds has testified, in secret, that she has heard tapes of FBI wiretaps in which Turkish nationals talked of arranging for thousands of dollars to be paid to Rep. Dennis Hastert's campaign in small, nonreportable amounts. Hastert is never heard on the tapes, Rose says, and there's no evidence that he actually received money from the Turkish nationals. However, Rose writes, "an examination of Hasterts federal filings shows that the level of un-itemized payments his campaigns received over many years was relatively high. Between April 1996 and December 2002, un-itemized personal donations to the Hastert for Congress fund amounted to $483,000. In contrast, un-itemized contributions to the same period to the committee run on behalf of the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, were only $99,000."
According to Rose, Edmonds reportedly testified that the recordings she heard contained "repeated references to Hasterts flip-flop in the fall of 2000 over an issue that remains of intense concern to the Turkish government -- the continuing campaign to have Congress designate the killings of Armenians between 1915 and 1923 a genocide." Hastert supported such a resolution in 2000 but then withdrew it just before the House was to vote on it.