A lawyer for a former Louisiana congressman who was convicted of taking bribes has told a federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., that his client's actions were not official acts.

 

Lawrence Robbins, an attorney for William Jefferson, said Friday that only a congressman's legislative duties are covered by the federal bribery law. Jefferson was convicted of soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes in exchange for using his influence to broker business deals in Africa.

Some members of the three-judge federal appeals panel that heard arguments in Jefferson's case strongly suggested that constituent services are just as much a part of a congressman's job as voting on legislation.

Jefferson, a Democrat, was convicted and sentenced to 13 years after investigators found thousands of dollars in his freezer.