Congressman Used National Guard to Visit Home - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 09-14-2005, 12:49 AM
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Congressman Used National Guard to Visit Home

Amid Katrina Chaos, Congressman Used National Guard to Visit HomeTwo Heavy Trucks, Helicopter Were Involved in Lawmaker's Trip at Height of Crisis
Rep. William Jefferson visited his New Orleans home after Hurricane Katrina with the assistance of National Guard troops. (

Sept. 13, 3005 — Amid the chaos and confusion that engulfed New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck, a local congressman used National Guard troops to check on his property and rescue his personal belongings — even while New Orleans residents were trying to get rescued from rooftops, ABC News has learned.

On Friday, Sept. 2 — five days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast — Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., who represents New Orleans and is a senior member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, was allowed through the military blockades set up around the city to reach the Superdome, where thousands of evacuees had been taken.

Military sources tells ABC News that Jefferson, an eight-term Democratic congressman, asked the National Guard that night to take him on a tour of the flooded portions of his congressional district. A 5-ton military truck and a half dozen military police were dispatched.

Lt. Col. Pete Schneider of the Louisiana National Guard tells ABC News that during the tour, Jefferson asked that the truck take him to his home on Marengo Street, in the affluent uptown neighborhood in his congressional district. According to Schneider, this was not part of Jefferson's initial request.

Jefferson defended the expedition, saying he set out to see how residents were coping at the Superdome and in his neighborhood. He also insisted that he did not ask the National Guard to transport him.

"I did not seek the use of military assets to help me get around my city," Jefferson told ABC News. "There was shooting going on. There was sniping going on. They thought I should be escorted by some military guards, both to the convention center the Superdome and uptown."

The water reached to the third step of Jefferson's house, a military source familiar with the incident told ABC News, and the vehicle pulled up onto Jefferson's front lawn so he wouldn't have to walk in the water. Jefferson went into the house alone, the source says, while the soldiers waited on the porch for about an hour.

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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 09-14-2005, 12:51 AM
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RE: Congressman Used National Guard to Visit Home

In an unrelated matter, authorities have recently searched Jefferson's property as part of a federal investigation into the finances of a high-tech firm. Last month FBI officials raided Jefferson's house as well as his home in Washington, D.C., his car and his accountant's house.

Jefferson has not commented on that matter, except to say he is cooperating with the investigation. But he has emerged as a major voice in the post-Katrina political debate.

"The levee system that had protected New Orleans for hundreds of years had failed," he said on the House floor on Sept. 7. "Our city was inundated, 80 percent of it, with deadly water. Thousands of lives were lost, many drowned, trapped in their homes. Others were lost trying to escape the fury."

Last week, Jefferson set up a special trust fund for contributions to his legal defense in light of the FBI investigation. A senior federal law enforcement source tells ABC News that investigators are interested in learning if Jefferson moved any materials relevant to the investigation. Jefferson says he did not."
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