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Father of the Year

How many dads besides Congressman William Jefferson would risk disbarment, investigation and public opprobrium just to help their little girls raise campaign money?



We may have just celebrated Mother's Day, but right now I'm all aglow about one of the great dads in our midst -- Congressman William Jefferson of New Orleans. What a righteous father!

He loves his daughter, state Rep. Jalila Jefferson-Bullock, so much that he would call his brother-in-law, Judge Alan Green of Jefferson Parish, and prevail upon him to violate state law and the Canons of Judicial Ethics by helping her raise money for her most recent political campaign. Come to think of it, the congressman himself may have violated the law as well -- or at least the Model Rules of Professional Responsibility, which govern attorneys' conduct -- by asking a judge to do something that he (the congressman) knows is against the law and the ethical rules.

Now there's a shining example of paternal affection for you. How many other dads would risk disbarment, investigation and public opprobrium just to help their little girls raise campaign money?

Oh, silly me. What am I doing talking about investigations? Have I forgotten that New Orleans District Attorney Eddie Jordan is a member of the extended Jefferson political clan? Lest we forget, it was Jefferson who orchestrated Jordan's election in 2002, and it was Jefferson who dispatched a staffer to oversee the illegal firing of dozens of white clerical workers and investigators in the DA's office -- a move that landed Jordan a federal discrimination lawsuit and millions in damage awards that his office cannot pay. But, I digress.

To fully appreciate the depth and breadth of Congressman Jefferson's selfless acts as a doting dad, let's review the facts.

According to recently unsealed documents in the federal racketeering and conspiracy case against Green, Jefferson was caught on an FBI wiretap calling the judge (who is the brother of Jefferson's wife, Andrea Green-Jefferson) and asking him to help raise money for then-candidate Jefferson-Bullock's successful 2003 campaign for the state House of Representatives. Green agreed to help, according to documents filed in the case against him.

During their conversation, Green and Jefferson discussed the possibility of the judge calling some of his 'lawyer friends' to buy tickets to a fundraiser for the congressman's daughter.

'I have to be careful who I can call about that kind of stuff, man,' Green says, according to records in the federal case.

'Well, you know who you can call, who can't call, you wouldn't call, you know,' Jefferson says.

'Yeah,' Green says.

'If, so, that's pretty much how it is. If there's somebody you can call, you know, then give them a call. Š if you can,' Jefferson says.

Jefferson told The Times-Picayune, which broke the story after convincing a federal judge to make public the previously sealed records, that his request for help was 'familial -- not political.'

Well, thank God for that. We wouldn't our congressman breaking the rules, or encouraging a judge to do likewise, for mere political reasons. By all means, however, do it for the kids.

In his defense, Jefferson told the T-P that the record shows he 'left the decision completely to him (Green) -- if he could assist and whether to do so. I also emphasized that I was calling solely at my wife's insistence.'

That Jefferson was putting the arm on people to help get his daughter elected is no secret, nor does it surprise anyone who knows 'Dollar Bill' -- a nickname given Jefferson by the late Dutch Morial. In fact, it was perfectly legal for him to call people on behalf of his daughter -- except for people, such as judges, who are barred by law from getting involved in politics or political fundraisers.

For the record, there is no evidence or even any suggestion that Jalila Jefferson-Bullock violated any laws or ethical rules. In fact, during her last campaign, this newspaper endorsed her candidacy. We also endorsed Jefferson pere during his last run for Congress. But then, how could we not support such a devoted father?

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