Aug 10, 200912:00 AM
The Editor's Room
Weekly Commentary with New Orleans Magazine’s Errol Laborde
Errol Laborde: 12 Similarities Between Bill Jefferson and Edwin Edwards
• Both were born poor in rural Louisiana; Edwards near Marksville, Jefferson near Lake Providence.
• Both grew up ambitious for power and wealth.
• Both are very bright.
• Both had great political skills.
• Both served as state senators prior to being elected to Congress.
• Both, had they not strayed, could have become prominent in politics at the national level.
• Both, as members of Congress, had suspect dealings with foreign governments that also involved their wives (For the Jeffersons, it was the African telecommunications scheme; in Edwards’ case, rice trade was the focus. He and his wife Elaine were accused of taking payoffs from a South Korean businessman allegedly trying to bribe American legislators on behalf of the South Korean government. Edwards eventually admitted that his wife had accepted an envelope containing $10,000, but, he argued, it was just a gift made out of friendship).
• Both had family members who were indicted in separate cases; Edward’s son Stephen and Jefferson’s brother Mose, and sister Betty.
• Both were caught on surveillance videotape making suspicious financial transactions.
• Both could have done much to help the people of Louisiana.
• Both did much to help themselves.
• Both are paying for it.
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