Monday, June 11, 2007

The Jefferson Saga

Vernon Jackson

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Billy Tauzin is unnamed Law maker in Jefferson's indictment

Former Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-La.) is the unnamed lawmaker mentioned in the Department of Justice's indictment of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.), according to a document obtained by The Hill.

Last week, Jefferson was indicted by the Justice Department for allegedly soliciting bribes in order to wield influence on several companies’ behalf, including iGate Inc., a Louisville, Ky., telecommunications company. As part of his suspected influence-peddling, Jefferson convinced a previously unnamed lawmaker to write an October 2002 letter to iGate’s chief executive, Vernon Jackson, and speak highly of his company’s technology.

Tauzin is the member referenced in Jefferson’s indictment. A copy of his letter to iGate was obtained by The Hill.

“To the best of my knowledge, this letter has nothing to do with the investigation. He is not a target,” said Ken Johnson, a former spokesman for Tauzin’s old panel, the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “Jefferson did ask for it, but it was principally a staff-driven letter.”

A long-time aide to Tauzin, Johnson now works with the former lawmaker at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Tauzin is the trade group’s president and CEO while Johnson is a senior vice president.

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