Pelosi asks Democrat to quit key committee But Louisiana lawmaker says he will not step down from panel Wednesday, May 24, 2006; Posted: 3:22 p.m. EDT (19:22 GMT) Rep. William Jefferson, D-Louisiana, denies any wrongdoing and says he plans to run for re-election. WASHINGTON (CNN) -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Rep. William Jefferson asking him to resign from the House Ways and Means Committee days after FBI agents raided his Capitol Hill office. "In the interest of upholding the high ethical standard of the House Democratic Caucus, I am writing to request your immediate resignation from the Ways and Means Committee," Pelosi wrote. Jefferson, a Louisiana Democrat, quickly wrote back that he would not give up his post on the committee. "With respect, I decline to do so," he said in his letter. The lawmaker's office in the Rayburn House Office Building was raided last weekend in connection with a bribery probe. Last year, an FBI raid found $90,000 in a freezer in Jefferson's home, according to an affidavit. (Full story) Jefferson, 59, an eight-term lawmaker representing a New Orleans district, is subject of a criminal probe into allegations that he accepted bribes in return for using his office to facilitate business ventures in Africa. (Watch how the FBI constructed its case -- 1:28) He has not been charged with a crime and has proclaimed his innocence, vowing this week to stay in Congress and seek re-election in November. In his reply to Pelosi, Jefferson listed his contributions to the committee and said his participation "has been important to our port's recovery after the storm," referring to the devastation in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. He said none of the matters "reported to be under scrutiny involve issues under jurisdiction of the Ways and Means Committee." "Therefore, such a request would be even more perplexing and unreasonable. If I agreed, it would unfairly punish the people of the 2nd District and I will not stand for that," Jefferson wrote. He also suggested that the request for his resignation from the important committee was discriminatory, "in as much as no other member currently under federal investigation has been asked to step down from a substantive, legislative committee assignment." Last week, the House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into the corruption allegations. A Kentucky businessman and a former Jefferson aide have pleaded guilty to bribery charges and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors. Bipartisan anger over raid The raid on Jefferson's office has united House Republicans and Democrats in opposition to what they say is a violation of the Constitution's separation of powers doctrine. House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Illinois, on Wednesday said the FBI should surrender materials seized from Jefferson's office. "I think those materials ought to be returned," Hastert said. He also said the FBI agents involved "ought to be frozen out of that [case] for the sake of the Constitution." Pelosi, D-California, also said the Constitution was violated. "Our founders in their wisdom placed this separation of powers into our Constitution, not to put anyone above the law but to protect the American people of the abusive power of the executive branch," she said Tuesday. Pelosi said that though members of Congress "must obey the law and cooperate fully with any criminal investigation," such probes "must be conducted in accordance with constitutional protections and historical precedent so that our government's system of checks and balances are not undermined." Using those constitutional arguments, Jefferson's attorneys filed a motion in U.S. District Court on Wednesday seeking return of property taken from Jefferson's office in the raid and that law enforcement authorities be prevented from reviewing any of the materials. Hastert said the search was the first time a lawmaker's office had been searched in U.S. history. "Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years," Hastert said Monday. Justice Department defends search But Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty said Wednesday said there have been such searches. "The department has conducted similar searches in the past, including the chambers of federal judges and the private residences of members of Congress, and we believe our actions were lawful and necessary under these very unique circumstances," he said. In an affidavit filed in support of the search warrant for Jefferson's office, prosecutors said they had "exhausted all other reasonable methods to obtain these records in a timely manner." The Constitution bars lawmakers from being questioned about "any speech or debate," a clause that courts have said also protects some legislative documents. In their application for a warrant for Jefferson's office, prosecutors acknowledged the sensitivity of the search by outlining special procedures that would be used to make sure that protected documents were not taken, including review of all materials by government lawyers and investigators not involved in the probe. http://www.cnn.com/2006/POLITICS/05/24/jefferson/index.html ************** They seem to be all the same. I remember another Will Jeff pardoning known criminals before leaving office. Simply disgusting imo.