Jefferson pleads not guilty.

Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) pleaded not guilty to using his public office to solicit more than $500,000 in bribes while brokering business deals in Africa. “I am absolutely innocent of the charges that have been leveled against me,” he said. He was released on $100,000 unsecured bond. “As conditions for his release, U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III denied the congressman access to shotguns and rifles in his Louisiana home. Jefferson said the guns were used for hunting. Ellis also ordered Jefferson to surrender his passport.”

UPDATE: Jefferson releases his first public statement: “We implore the press and the public to keep an open mind.”