FBI cleaning house on Capitol Hill: It’s about time


William Jefferson. Kyle ‘“Dusty’” Foggo. Jerry Lewis. Allen Mollohan. Randy ‘“Duke’” Cunningham. Roscoe Dixon. And maybe Dennis Hastert.

The Feds are staging their own version of that final climactic sequence in The Godfather, when Michael Corleone tells his turncoat brother-in-law Carlo, ‘“Today I settle all family business’” and Moe Green gets it right in the eye.

What the Corleone Family did with guns and garrotes the FBI is doing with warrants, wiretaps and witnesses. And it surely looks like they mean business.

On May 12 FBI agents searched the offices of then-CIA head Foggo in relation to an investigation that alleges bribery, gambling and prostitution.

Last Saturday they came to Capitol Hill with a search warrant for the first time in history to dig through the files and personal effects of Rep. William Jefferson (D-La.) who has been accused of accepting bribes and setting up shady business deals that benefited friends and members of his family.

The discovery of $90,000 wrapped in aluminum foil in Jefferson’s freezer at his home in Washington lends credence to the charges.

Meanwhile House Speaker Hastert (R-Ill.), who’s fighting rumors that he, too, is under federal investigation, issued a joint statement with Minority Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asking ‘— no, demanding ‘— that the seized documents be returned to the errant congressman and that everybody just play nice.

Could it be that the FBI is positioning itself to truly fight the plague of corruption that’s infested the corridors of power lo these many, many years?

It looks that way to us.

According to congressional newspaper The Hill, the FBI has increased the number of agents who investigate public corruption by 50 percent, from 400 to 600, in the last 18 months. In the last year more than 1,000 elected officials, military personnel and cops have been convicted, up 25 percent from 2004-05. And there are currently more than 2,200 investigations in this vein in the pipeline right now.

According to Chip Burrus, assistant director of the bureau’s criminal investigative division, prosecution of these crimes has attained a new level of priority. They now rank fourth, he said, behind terrorism, counterintelligence and identity theft.

And we say it’s about damn time. For too long these types of backroom deals and wink-nudge schemes have gone unchecked, making these fat cats richer and more connected while chumps like us sit on the sidelines and throw our hands in the air, assuming that the only people with the power to do anything about them are long past caring.

At times we’re a cynical bunch over here, but these recent moves on the part of the nation’s most elite crime fighting unit give us a glimmer of hope.

In that last scene in The Godfather, Tattaglia got what was coming to him. Likewise with Tessio and that rat bastard Barzini. And we hope that, figuratively anyway, those who would abuse their power and public trust meet the same fate.