I am pleased to report that William Jefferson will not be returning to Congress as a Representative of Louisiana. In the 2nd Congressional District, which includes most of New Orleans, Republican attorney Anh “Joseph” Cao won 50 percent of the vote to Jefferson’s 47 percent and will become the first Vietnamese-American in Congress.
Cao, who came to the United States when he was 8, holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Baylor University and a master’s degree in philosophy from Fordham University. After a stint as a Catholic seminarian, he earned a law degree from Loyola University in 2000.
Married with two daughters, he now runs a law practice in Venetian Isles specializing in immigration.
Cao took an interest in local politics after his home and office were swamped during Hurricane Katrina.
His first bid for public office last year, when he sought the open 103rd House District, was inauspicious. Running then as an independent, he finished fifth in a six-candidate field.
Cao said he began eyeing a run for the 2nd District seat shortly after a Virginia grand jury indicted Jefferson last year.
For a look at Cao’s positions on issues and more information about him, visit his website at
Greg Rigamer, a New Orleans political consultant, said his analysis showed turnout in predominantly white sections of the district was double that in black areas. He said that helped push Cao to victory over Jefferson, who became Louisiana’s first black congressman since Reconstruction when he took office in 1991. “This is quite a feat,” Rigamer said of Cao’s victory.
New Orleans voters had long been loyal to Jefferson, re-electing him in 2006 even after news of the bribery scandal broke.
William Jefferson’s record of shady behavior first came to public attention when he utilized National Guard assets to remove personal property from his home in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. An investigation for corruption began a year later with allegations of bribery. William Jefferson was videotaped receiving $100,000 in a leather briefcase in an Arlington, Virginia hotel. A subsequent raid on William Jefferson’s Washington DC residence uncovered $90,000 in cash stuffed in a freezer with serial numbers matching the money given to Jefferson in Arlington. The incident made William Jefferson the butt of late night comedians.On June 4, 2007, Rep. Jefferson was indicted on 16 criminal counts, including two counts of conspiracy to solicit bribes, two counts of solicitation of bribes by a public official, six counts of honest services fraud by wire, one count of violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, three counts of money laundering, one count of obstruction of justice and one count of racketeering. The indictment stems from multiple instances in which Rep. Jefferson agreed to perform official acts for 11 different companies in return for bribes payable to him and his family members. The indictment was the culmination of a criminal investigation that began in approximately March 2005. Jefferson has pleaded not guilty to all counts.
The following year, the FBI raided William Jefferson’s Congressional offices, touching off a period of political wrangling over the alleged Constitutional impropriety of the raid. An appellate court ruled that William Jefferson had the right to review the documents the FBI seized from his office under court supervision and to take out those that were privileged.
Though Jefferson will pack up his Capitol Hill office, he will remain in the news: Originally scheduled to begin last week, his trial is likely to start in early 2009.
Also in the cross-hairs of federal prosecutors are Jefferson siblings Betty Jefferson, the Orleans Parish 4th District Assessor, and political consultant Mose Jefferson, who were indicted last year on charges that they conspired to loot more than $600,000 in taxpayer money from three charities.
In a separate case, Mose Jefferson was indicted on charges that he bribed the former president of the Orleans Parish School Board.
Those trials are set for early next year.
Jefferson‘s defeat also marks the latest and most severe blow to the Progressive Democrats, the Central City-based political organization that he founded.
Among Jefferson allies who have been forced from public office since news of the FBI probe into Jefferson’s dealings broke are: Renee Gill Pratt, the congressman’s former legislative aide who lost her seat on the City Council; close ally Eddie Jordan, who was forced to resign as Orleans Parish district attorney; and Jefferson’s daughter, then-state Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, who lost a bid last year for the state Senate.
The election results of December 6th is a huge step in Americans doing something to take their country back. Jefferson was not a patriot and deserves to go to jail and this is a good first step in that direction!
Congrats again to Joseph Cao and to the people of the Louisiana 2nd District!