tampabay.com

La. congressman loses Democrats' backing

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published October 15, 2006


BATON ROUGE, La.- An eight-term Democratic Louisiana congressman whose Capitol Hill office was raided earlier this year as part of a bribery investigation failed Saturday to win the endorsement of the state's Democratic Party.

Rep. William Jefferson was passed over by the party's State Central Committee in favor of state Rep. Karen Carter. The committee voted 69-53 to endorse Carter in the Nov. 7 election.

Jefferson, who has denied the bribery allegations and has not been charged, will still appear on the ballot as a Democrat and will not lose campaign funds because of the vote. But it marks the first time in recent memory that an incumbent failed to win the state party's endorsement, said party member Elsie Burkhalter.

An FBI affidavit alleges that Jefferson took a $100,000 bribe in 2005 to help promote a cable television and Internet business in Nigeria and Ghana. It says all but $10,000 of the cash was found four days later in the freezer of his Washington home.

The investigation became public with separate raids on Jefferson's homes in New Orleans and Washington during the summer of 2005. In May, the FBI made an unprecedented raid on his Capitol Hill office.

In June, he was ousted from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Jefferson released a statement after the vote accusing Carter of relying on statewide, rather than local, Democratic committee support to earn its endorsement.

Carter is one of three prominent Democrats challenging Jefferson for the seat. The others are state Sen. Derrick Shepherd of Marerro and Troy Carter, a former New Orleans City Council member. If no candidate earns more than 50 percent of the vote Nov. 7, a second vote will be held in December with the top two candidates.