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Pelosi asks congressman snared in bribery probe to resign post

RAW STORY
Published: Wednesday May 24, 2006

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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has formally asked Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) to resign from the powerful Ways and Means Committee.

Jefferson wrote Pelosi quickly in reply, refusing to surrender his seat. Both letters, acquired by RAW STORY, follow.

"None of the matters reported to be under scrutiny involve issues under jurisdiction of the Ways and Means committee," the Lousiana Democrat wrote. "Therefore, such a request would be even more perplexing and unreasonable. If I agreed, it would unfairly punish the people of the 2nd district and I will not stand for that."

Pelosi's office did not immediately respond to questions asking whether she will call on Jefferson to resign from Congress. One Washington watchdog group has already asked Jefferson to quit.

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The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Democratic Leader
H-204, The Capitol
Washington, D.C. 20515

Leader Pelosi:

I have received your letter of this date requesting my immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee. With respect, I decline to do so.

Through my committee position and since this federal investigation became public, I have secured over $20 billion in tax credits and federal funds for my district after Hurricane Katrina. I authored the GO ZONE Act, the Katrina Public Finance Act, and the Katrina Tax Relief Act, along with my colleague Jim McCrery, which all resulted in massive tax relief for families, seniors, government agencies and businesses in the hurricane-affected region. All of these matters fall within the jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee. Additionally, my committee covers trade, which is important the Port of New Orleans. My work on the committee has been important to our port's recovery after the storm.

None of the matters reported to be under scrutiny involve issues under jurisdiction of the Ways and Means committee. Therefore, such a request would be even more perplexing and unreasonable. If I agreed, it would unfairly punish the people of the 2nd district and I will not stand for that.

Further, such a request would be discriminatory, in as much as no other Member currently under federal investigation has been asked to step down from a substantive, legislative committee assignment. It would also be unprecedented, in as much as I have served with Members who have been indicted, tried and won their cases, and who were never asked to step aside from their committee assignments during those processes. Therefore, I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain political strategy.

Sincerely,

William J. Jefferson
Member of Congress

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