AUGUST 16, 2007
A veteran New Orleans city councilmanâ??s guilty plea to federal bribery charges this week helps solidify Louisianaâ??s disgraceful title as the state with the most corrupt politicians.
The statewide epidemic has touched all levels of government, from federal legislators in the United States House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to state insurance and elections commissioners all the way down to city and county politicians.
They include a recently indicted Democratic Congressman (Bill Jefferson) who hid a $90,000 cash bribe in his freezer, a Republican U.S. Senator (David Vitter) involved with an upscale prostitution operation and a former longtime governor (Edwin Edwards) in jail for racketeering, extortion, fraud and conspiracy.
Other Louisiana pubic officials that have contributed to the dubious honor include the former president of the state senate jailed for money laundering and insurance fraud, an elections commissioner convicted of money laundering, three jailed insurance commissioners and an agriculture commissioner indicted for accepting bribes.
More recently, the president of the New Orleans public school board pleaded guilty in federal court to taking bribes from a lobbyist, who happened to be corrupt Congressman Jeffersonâ??s brother, in exchange for a lucrative school contract for a firm the lobbyist represented.
The crooked Louisiana politician of the week is the longest serving member of the New Orleans City Council (Oliver Thomas), who has pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges for extorting $15,000 from a city parking lot vendor.
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