With $90,000 In His Freezer, What’s Not To Love?

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New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has endorsed the candidacy of Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson, the man who gave a new meaning to the term, “cold hard cash.” Jefferson is the target of a federal bribery investigation. Those he has not been charged, one of his aides and a Kentucky businessman have already pleaded guilty. During the course of the investigation, agents found $90,000 in cash hidden in Jefferson’s freezer.

The surprise isn’t so much that Nagin would lend his support to someone under investigation who looks pretty guilty, but that he would so enthusiastically support a Democrat. Nagin, a lifelong Republican who suddenly “became a Democrat” a day before his first mayoral campaign began, has governed like a Republican, and even endorsed Bobby Jindal (now a Congressman) for governor. Jindal is not merely Republican, but is on the extreme right wing end of things.

Nagin’s endorsement of Jefferson adds one more item to the list of things he has done that cast doubts on his ability to lead. From waffling about whether a landfill should be in the middle of a residential area to bungling the towing of trashed cars after Katrina to recently making a questionable deal with a trash pickup company, the mayor has caused New Orleanians to question his re-election. However, they have only themselves to blame.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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