The only surprise about Congressman Bill Jefferson's indictment on bribery charges is how long it took the government to file charges. Mr. Jefferson stands accused of using his office to solicit bribes in connection with business deals in Africa, and the $90,000 in marked bills found in his freezer should put the deep freeze on his defense. Unless he can pull off an Edwin Edwards defense a la Houdini, you can score this one for the prosecution.
If the charges are true -- hardly a stretch -- then Mr. Jefferson deserves a stiff sentence. Even if he beats the rap, it still seems to me that Mr. Jefferson needs a lesson in ethics. Whether there's a conviction or not, however, the public still seems to pay the price. For the skeptics and critics, Mr. Jefferson is just the latest example of a corrupt Louisiana politician. For the naive, willfully blind, and plain ignorant people who re-elected him, their faith seems to have been rewarded with nothing more than disgrace and distrust visited upon a City that already struggles to earn the nation's good graces. And for everyone else, an "I told you so" and out in the cold as usual.