Wednesday, April 19, 2006
By Bill Walsh
WASHINGTON -- Shadowed by an ongoing federal investigation into his business dealings, Rep. William Jefferson, D-New Orleans, reported contributions of just $57,500 in the first three months of 2006, a meager sum in an era of six-figure hauls in a quarter.
"Lots of times when people run into difficulty, their friends run the other way," Acadian Ambulance's CEO Richard Zuschlag said. "There are two sides to every story and I reserve judgment. . . . Rep. Jefferson has been a good friend and he has never asked us to do anything improper."
Zuschlag's Lafayette-based company is pressing the Ways & Means Committee to restore Medicare payment cuts for ambulance services.
The FBI raided Jefferson's homes in Washington and New Orleans in August and, according to media reports, seized cash from a freezer. Former congressional aide Brett Pfeffer told a federal judge in January that Jefferson had demanded regular payments, a job for a relative and ownership in a company set up to deliver high-speed Internet service in Nigeria and Ghana.
Pfeffer's plea agreement also referred to a confidential witness who recorded phone conversations and meetings involving the transactions.