It took a bit of wrangling to get some people to break with their friend, but it's for the best that they did.
In a letter he sent to Nancy Pelosi, he defended his right to the seat, and offered conditions under which he'd step down. He also offered this defense:
1. Precedent. I have pointed out, ad nauseum, that no precedent exists for the resignation of a member from any committee of the Congress, based on news reports and allegations from third parties, or even where the member is under indictment.It's true that there is no such precedent, but now there is. Breaking with history like that was tough for some people, but the House Dems did the right thing by evaluating the evidence available and deciding that, even though no indictment has hit yet, Jefferson is not qualified to make vital decisions about national spending and priorities.
The leaders of the Republican Party have been content to let members retain power up to and past their indictments on much more serious issues. Let's hope they learn from this example.
While I think Steve Rothman is right to want to draw up clear standards that codify the principle behind this act, it was silly to delay this action until that happens.
As Pelosi said "Anybody with $90,000 in the freezer -- you have a problem with [the Democratic] Caucus."