Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

Talk about cold, hard cash. FBI agents found $90,000 in the freezer at the home of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.).
Talk about cold, hard cash. FBI agents found $90,000 in the freezer at the home of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.). (Mark Finkenstaedt - Mark Finkenstaedt)
By Dana Milbank
Friday, November 9, 2007

Those who believe in the innate goodness of humankind have never walked the 100 block of D Street Southeast.

Let's start at 110 D St., the drab Hill House apartment complex; police were summoned here, to Apartment 215, when a woman complained that her lover, then-Rep. Don Sherwood (R-Pa.), a married man, tried to strangle her.

Walk a few doors down and you arrive at a townhouse with a birdbath in front: 132 D St., the "Safe House" where, under artwork provided by clients of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) and his colleagues made fundraising calls and set up a lobbying business.

Across the street at No. 137, a charming stucco house under a shade tree, is where then-Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fla.) was reportedly visited by teenagers; from there he also sent lewd instant messages to boys.

On the corner of the block stands an appropriately whitewashed structure housing the Republican National Committee, where thousands of e-mails from Karl Rove and other White House officials mysteriously vanished. Also on the block: the former home of Porter Goss, who, as director of the CIA, hired Dusty Foggo, indicted as part of the bribery case that also imprisoned former California Rep. Duke Cunningham (R).

But, scandal tourists, there is no time to tarry here. You must hurry to the corner townhouse near RFK Stadium where the FBI found $90,000 in a congressman's freezer; the men's room at Union Station, said to be a favorite hangout of the "sitting" senator from Idaho, Larry Craig; the corner on Pennsylvania Avenue where a former national security adviser hid classified documents under a construction trailer; hotels where Scooter Libby told Judy Miller to call him a "former Hill staffer" and where a defense contractor provided refreshments and allegedly prostitutes for government officials; and the marina where a congressman once moored the boat he earned as a bribe.

With at least 16 current and former members of Congress under investigation and congressional committees issuing two dozen subpoenas to current and former administration officials, there has never been a better time to take a scandalous tour of Washington.

Not that there has ever been a bad time for the scandal industry here. The comedy group Gross National Product has long conducted Scandal Tours for the prurient. But a check of the group's Web site indicates that the tour's itinerary is in need of updating. It still includes Ollie North's shredding (1986), the Watergate break-in (1972), Gary Hart and Donna Rice (1987), Rita and John Jenrette (1981) and Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill (1991). The tour still features the Tidal Basin, where Wilbur Mills and a stripper were caught -- in 1974. Mills, once chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, has been dead for 15 years.

After the past few years, Washington can do better (which is to say worse) than that.

Begin your tour across the river at the Ritz-Carlton in Pentagon City. This is where old scandal meets new. Here is where Marv Albert bit a Virginia woman in 1997 and where Monica Lewinsky was recorded and photographed while she had lunch with Linda Tripp in 1998 and was later questioned by the FBI. In 2004, the FBI recorded a meeting between Pentagon official Larry Franklin and two top pro-Israel lobbyists as part of an ongoing espionage case.

All of this means that William Jefferson, a Democratic congressman from Louisiana, should have known something was up when, in July 2005, business partner Lori Moody invited him to the hotel. There, FBI agents recorded Jefferson accepting a briefcase containing $100,000 intended as a bribe for an African official.

To see the rest of the Jefferson story, hop on Interstate 395 back into town, and make your way to 1350 F St. NE. In August 2005, FBI agents found $90,000 of the money wrapped in aluminum foil and stuffed in frozen-food containers in Jefferson's freezer. Jefferson won reelection last year and has since been indicted.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2007 The Washington Post Company