Republican attorney, Anh “Joseph” Cao, from New Orleans, Louisiana won the vote of the people in the New Orleans district, which is the 2nd Congressional District for Louisiana for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cao faced incumbent William Jefferson, a Democrat for the seat and won with 50% of the vote to Jefferson’s 47%. Jefferson has held the seat in the House since 1991 and was the first black man elected to the House since the Reconstruction era. The runoff election was postponed due to Hurricane Gustav and was rescheduled for Saturday, December 6, 2008.
Jefferson was indicted in June of 2007 by a federal grand jury for corruption charges involving laundering money, bribery and misuse of his public office. Jefferson pleaded not guilty to all charges. A trial date has yet to be set.
The investigation of Jefferson began in 2005 when Jefferson was videotaped by the FBI receiving cash in leather briefcases in Virginia for a deal in Ghana that he wanted a financial stake in. The money was to be split with the Nigerian Vice President to insure that their contracts would go forward.
The FBI raided Jefferson’s home in Washington several days later and found the money (with the same serial numbers given to their informant) stashed in the freezer. Jefferson has since been suspected of being involved in over 5 more schemes which involved an exchange of something for his official acts of duty.
Nancy Pelosi, head of the House Ways and Means Committee, asked Jefferson to resign from the committee in May of 2005. He refused, which led to a vote of the Democrat House members to officially vote him off the committee on June 15, 2005.
Despite his indictment, Jefferson was reelected for the House seat in 2006 despite strong opposition from Democrat Karen Carter, whom he faced in a runoff election. Carter had endorsements from most of the local politicians and press in the New Orleans area but only pulled 22% of the vote.
January 6, 2009 Joseph Cao will be sworn into office to fill the seat for the 2nd District of Louisiana in the U.S. House of Representatives. Cao will be the first Vietnamese-American in congress. Joseph Cao moved to the United States as a child in 1975, and earned degrees in philosophy, physics and law. He practices law in New Orleans, Louisiana as an immigration attorney. Cao is married to “Kate” Hieu Hoang and has a 4 year old daughter.