Leslie Turk

'Dollar Bill' says he'll survive primary

by Leslie Turk

The Advocate today reports that indicted U.S. Rep. William “Bill” Jefferson says he will survive the Sept. 6 Democratic Party primary. The 61-year-old, nine-term incumbent and the first black congressman elected in Louisiana since Reconstruction has a one-word response to critics and political rivals who suggest otherwise: “foolishness.”

The 2nd Congressional District — safely Democratic since 1891 — includes nearly all of New Orleans, the West Bank portion of Jefferson Parish and south Kenner.

Leaving a candidate forum hosted by the community activist group ACORN in Mid-City, the incumbent recalled his 2006 re-election campaign. He faced 12 opponents then, led by state Sen. Karen Carter, a fellow Democrat.

“Remember all those polls that said Karen Carter was winning by 20 percent?” Jefferson told reporters, then pretending to mimic a sportscaster — “She’s winning by 20 points!”

Jefferson easily beat Carter in the runoff, despite FBI raids in 2005 on his home and congressional offices — and lingering questions about $90,000 in marked money agents said they found in the congressman’s freezer.

Jefferson maintains his innocence and has repeatedly promised the public an “honorable explanation” for the seized cash. In June 2007, six months after his re-election, Jefferson was indicted on 16 federal charges in an alleged international corruption scheme.

Read the full story here.