With William Jefferson’s conviction yesterday on 11 public corruption counts, the former Louisiana Congressman may be looking at 20 years in prison, although his attorney plans to appeal.
But while a prison term would be a significant fall from grace for the New Orleans Democrat, it will put him in the company of at least nine of his former Congressional colleagues.
The gallery includes:
- Former New York Republican Rep. Vito Fossella, sentenced to five days in jail for drunk driving;
- Former Ohio Republican Rep. Robert Ney, sentenced to 30 months for corruption in the Jack Abramoff scandal;
- Former California Republican Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, sentenced to 100 months for public corruption in the MZM scandal;
- Former North Carolina Democratic Rep. Frank Ballance, sentenced to four years for mail fraud and money laundering;
- Former South Dakota Republican Rep. William Janklow, sentenced to 100 days for vehicular manslaughter;
- Former Ohio Democratic Rep. James Traficant, sentenced to eight years for bribery, tax evasion, and racketeering;
- Former California Democratic Rep. Walter Tucker III, sentenced to 27 months for extortion and tax fraud;
- Former Illinois Democratic Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, sentenced to 17 months for mail fraud (he was later pardoned by President Bill Clinton);
- Former Illinois Democratic Rep. Mel Reynolds, sentenced to five years for sexual misconduct and later six and a half years for public corruption (his sentence was later commuted by President Clinton).
And with former Reps. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, Tom DeLay of Texas, and Rick Renzi of Arizona, all under indictment, Jefferson may have more company still.
Of course, none of these cases involve $90,000 in their freezers.
The public already gives fairly low approval ratings for members of Congress — 24 percent approve of the job it is doing in the most recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll — and violations of the public trust like these that help explain why.