2-Piece and a Biscuit: The Jefferson Saga

William Jefferson'Rep. William Jefferson faces many years in jail for bribery related charges if convicted. The jury began deliberating on Thursday and is expected to continue for some time.

He is the first public official to be tried under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. The $90,000 in his freezer was allegedly to bribe Atiku Abubakar then vice president of Nigeria.  “The money was never delivered, but [the prosecutor] said to be found guilty under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, ‘it is not required that the payment actually be made. It is the offer or authorization (of the bribe) that completes the crime.'”

William Jefferson's Freezer

Joseph Kennedy

“Joseph P. Kennedy was the ambitious son of a prosperous Boston saloon keeper and ward boss. He married the mayor’s daughter, went to Harvard, and generally made the most of his ample connections and talent. He ran a bank (admittedly two-bit) at 25, and was number-two man at a shipyard with more than 2,000 workers during World War I. At 30 he became a stockbroker and made a fortune through insider trading and stock manipulation. He was a master of the stock pool, a then-legal stunt in which a few traders conspired to inflate a stock’s price, selling out just before the bubble burst.

Kennedy may also have traded in illegal booze, although the evidence is circumstantial. [I]n 1973 mob boss Frank Costello said he and Kennedy had been bootlegging partners. Other underworld figures have also claimed Joe was in pretty deep.”

Two ambitious Harvard grads.  Two men who tried to give their children an inheritance.  Two very different outcomes.

Joseph Kennedy danced in the gray of the law.  He made money from things that were just about to be declared illegal.  He left a complex legacy of wealth and ambition.  He was an astute businessman.

William Jefferson didn’t deliver the bribe.  He and his wife apparently were involved in several failed efforts.

Jefferson was a politician but not a businessman.  Too bad, because the Chinese have proven that successful enterprise can be conducted in contemporary Africa that benefits Africa and business.  He sold out his legacy for two piece and a biscuit.

What if he had been on his game?  What if he had tried to build a legitimate business outside of Congress?  What if he had become a lobbyist (hat tip Daschle)?

Lesson learned:  If you’re going to sell out your legacy and reputation, don’t do it for…

chicken and a biscuit

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About liftingasweclimb

Mildred Lewis writes and directs for theater, television, film and the web. She's also a full time professor, Christian, activist and troublemaker with a passion to save as much of the world as she can.
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