Nine-term Democratic Rep. William Jefferson has lost his reelection bid in a triumph for anti-corruption advocates. However, 47 percent of his district still wanted to send him back to Congress despite his well-earned indictment — almost the same percentage that wanted to send Sen. Ted Stevens back to Washington. The winner is Anh “Joseph” Cao, an attorney and community organizer, in the 2nd Congressional district. He will now be the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress.
It is astonishing to see so many citizens will to go to the polls to cast such morally relativistic votes — ignoring compelling evidence of corrupt practices as somehow irrelevant to government service.
It is doubtful that the change in status of Jefferson will dampen the vigor of his prosecution. He achieved a certain international fame with the money in the freezer that will continue to make him a high-profile target. Moreover, the loss removes a bargaining chip for the defense. A classic deal has the indicted member agreeing to leave Congress and politics in exchange for a lower prison sentence. With the election, he loses badly needed income, a bargaining chip, and the benefits of his public office.
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