Few political players in disaster zone

Some of the New Orleans sections hit the hardest by Hurricane Katrina lack the deep pockets necessary to play a role in Washington’s political influence game.

In Central City, just south of the Superdome, where thousands found shelter from the hurricane, only 49 people gave more than $200 in the 2003-2004 cycle out of the 12,177 donors in Central City’s ZIP code, according to the website of PoliticalMoneyLine.

In the Bywater and lower 9th Ward areas, 36 percent of the population lives below the poverty level. Of the 56,494 donors in that ZIP code, only 123 gave donations in excess of $200, according to politicalmoneyline.com.

The most flooded area is in Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-La.) district, which encompasses most of New Orleans and is solidly Democratic. After his first election in 1990, Jefferson has faced little opposition, yet he raises and spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each cycle.

In the 2003-2004 cycle, Jefferson, who sits on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, raised and spent an estimated $1 million, almost three-quarters of it from interest group political action committees.

Jefferson’s home in New Orleans was not destroyed by the hurricane because it is in the uptown area, on higher ground.

Roxana Tiron