AP Reporter's Indicted Pol Writeups Differ Sharply (Renzi vs. Jefferson)

There is no need to play the parlor game, "What party is this person a member of?" with this Associated Press story by Lara Jakes Jordan (Feb. 23 Note: The original link from AP's hosted.ap.org site was changed; the story link now goes to Jordan's story carried at SignOnSanDiego.com. Jordan's report has been saved for future reference at BizzyBlog's host for fair use and discussion purposes):

Congressman Charged in Land Deal

Republican Rep. Rick Renzi was indicted Friday on charges of extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other matters in an Arizona land swap scam that allegedly helped him collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs.

A 26-page federal indictment unsealed in Tucson, Ariz., accuses Renzi and two former business partners of embezzlement and conspiring to promote the sale of land that buyers could swap for property owned by the federal government.

..... Renzi is the Arizona chairman for GOP presidential front-runner Sen. John McCain's campaign. McCain seemed surprised when asked in Indianapolis for his reaction to the indictment, choosing his words carefully, shaking his head and speaking slowly.

The instant party identification of an indicted politician would be perfectly acceptable, if Ms. Jordan were consistent. But she is not.

As NewsBusters' Lynn Davidson noted last year, Jordan's story on the indictment of Congressman William Jefferson (D-LA) made no direct reference to his party affiliation (the standalone undated print version is here with Lara Jakes's byline; the indicated authors of the same story dated June 4, 2007 are Lara Jakes Jordan and Matthew Barakat).

Jordan instead required curious readers to make it to the ninth paragraph, and then to infer that Jefferson must be a member of the same party as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:

Louisiana congressman William Jefferson received more than $500,000 in bribes and sought millions more in nearly a dozen separate schemes to enrich himself by using his office to broker business deals in Africa, according to a federal indictment Monday.

The charges came almost two years after investigators raided Jefferson's home in Washington and found $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer.

The indictment lists 16 counts, including racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. He faces a possible maximum sentence of 235 years.

He is the first U.S. official to face charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corporate bribery overseas.

Jefferson, through his lawyer, claimed innocence. He will be arraigned Friday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.

..... House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is expected to push this week for Jefferson to be stripped of his seat on the Small Business Committee, according to a leadership aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision had not yet been announced.

"If these charges are proven true, they constitute an egregious and unacceptable abuse of public trust and power," said Pelosi, D-Calif. "Democrats are committed to upholding a high ethical standard and eliminating corruption and unethical behavior from the Congress."

One would hope that identifying an alleged perpetrator's party affiliation early on, regardless of the party involved, will become a habit for Ms. Jordan. Excuse me if I doubt this will happen.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.