Jefferson going to trial

The Democrats may have their own Ted Stevens.

Published November 13, 2008 4:00PM (EST)

In light of the financial crisis, Rep. William Jefferson's investment strategy seems a lot more reasonable then it did two years ago when FBI agents discovered the $90,000 he'd accepted from a bureau informant sitting in his refrigerator. Was it damning evidence? Probably. Turns out it was sound fiscal behavior, though.

In the wake of the FBI's finding his frozen assets, Jefferson was indicted on corruption charges. Wednesday, those charges were upheld despite Jefferson's claim that his First Amendment rights were violated when the grand jury heard testimony from three of his aides, two of whom had already pleaded guilty in a related case. Jefferson's case will head to trial, where he will stand accused of accepting over $500,000 and demanding much more while heading the congressional Africa Investment and Trade Caucus.

So far it has been a mixed month for Jefferson. He rolled to an easy primary win on Nov. 4 (the vote was delayed on account of Hurricane Gustav) after his constituents showed a surprising willingness to forget about the whole bribery thing and that other time when he used the National Guard to help rescue his belongings during Katrina.

Tougher times lie ahead, though. Jefferson is hitting the campaign trail and his court date is scheduled for shortly after the Dec. 6 election. If he wins the election, he will get two more years in Congress. If he loses the trial, he could be sentenced to 235 years in prison.

By Andrew Burmon

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