Democratic Party in La. Backs Rival Of Jefferson

Associated Press
Sunday, October 15, 2006

BATON ROUGE, La., Oct. 14 -- An eight-term 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 J. Jefferson was passed over by the party's State Central Committee in favor of state Rep. Karen R. Carter. The committee voted 69 to 53 to endorse Carter in the Nov. 7 election.

"I am absolutely humbled," she said.

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 was the first time in recent memory that an incumbent failed to win the state party's endorsement, said party member Elsie Burkhalter.

A former Jefferson aide and a Kentucky businessman have pleaded guilty in an alleged scheme to get kickbacks for helping the businessman promote a cable television and Internet business in Nigeria and Ghana.

An FBI affidavit alleges that Jefferson was videotaped accepting a briefcase with $100,000 in $100 bills on July 30, 2005. 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, Jefferson was ousted from the powerful House Ways and Means Committee.

Carter is one of three prominent Democrats challenging Jefferson for the seat. The others, state Sen. Derrick Shepherd of Marerro and Troy Carter, a former New Orleans City Council member unrelated to Karen Carter, did not attend the party meeting.

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