When FBI agents raided his homes, car and his accountant’s office last week, U.S. Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, entered a political limbo of unknown duration and unknown consequences, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He joins two House colleagues, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, and Rep. Duke Cunningham, R-Calif., who, like Jefferson, are sweating through criminal probes. Jefferson and the others must wait for a possible criminal indictment while trying to convince constituents they are continuing to represent them effectively. Aides and friends say Jefferson was trying his best to stay upbeat and continue his congressional duties as if last week’s raids hadn’t happened.
There has been no official explanation of the raids, but the Washington Post reported the investigation centered on the use of political influence by Jefferson on behalf of business associates. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato said Jefferson may survive politically. “We’re now at a point where a congressman has to be indicted and convicted for an offense like this to end his career,” he said.