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Rep. Jefferson Gets Seat on Homeland Security

Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat who's facing an ongoing federal corruption probe, is being granted a spot on the Homeland Security Committee, according to Democratic aides.

The appointment will be announced Friday, according to one aide who requested anonymity because the decision isn't yet official.

Jefferson was removed from his seat on the Ways and Means Committee, one of the most important panels in Congress, by Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) last summer in an attempt to show how seriously Democrats viewed the allegations of corruption.

But the move by Pelosi, who was still minority leader at the time, infuriated members of the Congressional Black Caucus, who said Jefferson shouldn't be punished unless he is indicted; federal prosecutors have yet to bring an indictment, despite an FBI raid 18 months ago on his home that yielded $90,000 in cash in his freezer.

Other lawmakers were angling for the seat on Homeland Security, which was the last slot available on the panel, according to another Democratic aide.

The committee oversees the Homeland Security Department and its web of agencies designed to protect against terrorism on U.S. soil.

The committee has oversight of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was widely panned for its response to Hurricane Katrina in Jefferson's hometown of New Orleans.

As a member of the committee, Jefferson will not have direct oversight of the FBI or the Justice Department.

A former Jefferson aide has already pleaded guilty to corruption in the ongoing investigation, as has a businessman who alleged in his plea agreement that he bribed Jefferson in order to win contracts with African nations.

When most committee assignments were given out two months ago, Jefferson was assigned a spot on the Small Business Committee, generally considered one of the least sought after panels.

By Paul Kane  |  February 15, 2007; 5:59 PM ET
Categories:  House  
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