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CREW: Congressman sold influence, misused National Guard during Katrina

Published: Wednesday April 12, 2006

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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has prepared, and is asking United States Representatives to file an ethics complaint against Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA). The complaint relates to allegations of a bribery scheme and misuse of of the National Guard during and after the hurricane Katrina disaster.

In a recently agreed-to plea bargain, an ex-aide to Rep. Jefferson, Brett Pfeffer, contended that in 2004, he worked with Rep. Jefferson and private companies to market high-speed internet and broadband services in Nigeria. Rep. Jefferson allegedly agreed to use his position as a Congressman to promote the Nigerian deal in return for placement of family members on company payroll. In addition, Mr. Jefferson and his daughter received significant campaign contributions from parties involved.

Rep. Jefferson also traveled to Ghana allegedly in hopes of securing a similar deal, bringing with him not only official staff, a family member, and an employee of a related investment company. This time, he reportedly also asked for a percentage of the company, as well.

Rep. Jefferson is also accused of improperly using the National Guard during Hurricane Katrina by ordering troops to check on his home and retrieve some of his belongings.

House rules require that complaints be submitted to the ethics committee by a Congressperson. A member of the House may certify that an outside complaint is based on good faith, and submit it to the Ethics Committee for consideration.