Louisiana Democrat Rep. William Jefferson refused to step down from the powerful Ways and Means Commisttee at the request of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. In a tersely worded letter, Pelosi wrote, "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." Jefferson retorted, "With respect, I decline to do so. I will not give up a committee assignment that is so vital to New Orleans at this crucial time for any uncertain, long-term political strategy." Pelosi has been trying to tar Republicans with governing in a "culture of corruption": Jefferson's troubles are vitiating the resonance of her rhetoric and enforcing what many believe already, i.e., venality knows no political affiliation.