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Katrina: Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson Used National Guard to Retrieve Belongings

Rep. William Jefferson commandered a National Guard detachment on September 2, during the height of the Katrina rescue operations, to go check on his own home and retrieve his belongings. Ultimately, several soldiers, a helicopter, and at least two large trucks were involved in the operation.

La. congressman had Guard escort to home (AP)

A Louisiana congressman being escorted by National Guard troops removed personal items from his home in flooded New Orleans while military helicopters and emergency workers raced to save thousands of victims. Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., said he had planned to check on his house Sept. 2 after traveling with President Bush to survey the damage across the Gulf Coast. He said he accepted the Louisiana National Guard escort only after his staff and Capitol police warned him it was unsafe to travel alone because of looting and lawlessness.

After touring the flood-damaged city from the air and visiting evacuees at the Louisiana Superdome and the city’s Convention Center, Jefferson said he asked his National Guard escorts to drive him to his Uptown neighborhood, several miles from the Superdome. “I was intending to go to my neighborhood for sure if I could get there. I didn’t know what the condition was,” Jefferson said Wednesday. “I was curious to know and everybody in my family was curious to know: What was the condition of our house? Was it underwater? Was it looted?”

While Jefferson was checking out his house, the military truck that brought him there got stuck in the mud and a second truck had to be sent to rescue the congressman and his National Guard escort, said Maj. Ed Bush, a spokesman for the Louisiana National Guard.

A Coast Guard helicopter rescuing people stranded on rooftops also spotted the group at the congressman’s house and sent a rescue swimmer down to investigate. Jefferson said he and the guardsmen tried to wave the helicopter off, but the pilot apparently didn’t see him and the swimmer ended up kicking in a door and entering his house through a balcony.

Cmdr. Brendan McPherson, a spokesman for the Coast Guard, said the helicopter pilot responded to a distress signal from the National Guardsmen outside Jefferson’s house before lowering the rescue swimmer. At the time, water was waist-deep around the house and the guardsmen were standing on the front porch. “It was clear to them that they were being signaled, as they had been in many other cases when someone was in distress,” McPherson said. An Air National Guardsman who had hitched a ride on the truck carrying Jefferson from the Superdome was airlifted from Jefferson’s home by the helicopter, McPherson said, but Jefferson declined the Coast Guard offer of help. Three other people also were rescued from the congressman’s neighborhood before the helicopter returned to Mobile, Ala., he said.

Lt. Col. Pete Schneider, a Louisiana Guard spokesman, said Jefferson was the only official who requested a tour of the city via ground transportation.

Incredible.

Jefferson has, however, devoted the entire front page of his House website to information on Katrina relief.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. day explosions at a chemical facility rocked New Orleans. That was the day “10,000 people stood in 100-plus degree heat outside the Superdome, wading through knee-deep trash to board busses.” (link) Coast Guard helicopters and military Humvees “raced to save thousands of victims” that day, rescuing Americans trapped on rooftops, in attics, or attempting to traverse impassable land and water on their way to food, drink, and general safety. With all this going on, Congressman Jefferson was

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  2. the day explosions at a chemical facility rocked New Orleans. That was the day “10,000 people stood in 100-plus degree heat outside the Superdome, wading through knee-deep trash to board busses.” (link) Coast Guard helicopters and military Humvees “raced to save thousands of victims” that day, rescuing Americans trapped on rooftops, in attics, or attempting to traverse impassable land and water on their way to food, drink, and general safety. With all this going on, Congressman Jefferson was “curious.”

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  3. [Quote:] Rep. William Jefferson (D. Louisiana) has been caught on tape accepting more than $100,000 in cash bribes. This is the same Rep. Jefferson whocommandeered Katrina relief resources to secure his personal home and retrieve a laptop, three briefcases and a large box. Jefferson was already under federal investigation pre-Katrina and his house had been raided once for evidence. Jefferson

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  4. Corruption Filter: Rep. William Jefferson (D. Louisiana) has been caught on tape accepting more than $100,000 in cash bribes. This is the same Rep. Jefferson whocommandeered Katrina relief resources to secure his personal home and retrieve a laptop, three briefcases and a large box. Jefferson was already under federal investigation pre-Katrina and his house had been raided once for evidence. Jefferson’s offices were

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  5. William Jefferson D-LA should not be more than a blip on the news radar, save for a few things. One may recall Jefferson’s self-serving chutzpah when he snagged National Guardsmen engaged in Katrina rescue operations totake him to his own home and “rescue” his daughter’s laptop and a suitcase”. We may be forgiven now wondering about what was really in that suitcase since we now know Jefferson like keeping his bribe cash wrapped in foil in the family freezer.

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  6. Anderson says:

    Classy.

    N.b. Josh Marshall’s observation that the guy’s house was being searched for evidence before the flood (ante-diluvium?).

    Last month, you may remember, Jefferson’s homes in the District and New Orleans were raided as part of a federal criminal investigation, the precise nature of which has yet to become clear.

    Did Jefferson make the Guardsmen accessories?

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  7. Paul says:

    The Political Teen has The Video and it is damning.

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  8. Miscellaneous Katrina Issues

    So much stuff has come out in the open since Katrina, it’s almost too much to take in. Some tidbits of information: Consider that 2 of the left’s most hated groups have come to the rescue in New Orleans. One

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  9. anjin-san says:

    This guy needs to be returned to the private sector…

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  10. DL says:

    He had to do this – the laptop contained the only backup copy of Hillary’s FBI file collection.

    This should make him the left’s poster child for their “We Care” program!

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  11. Herb says:

    What else would you expect from a Louisiana politician?

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  12. McGehee says:

    This guy needs to be returned to the private sector…

    Only if federal prisons have been privatized.

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