A federal investigation has uncovered evidence that Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. offered to raise money for former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in exchange for being appointed to the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.
According to the Chicago Sun Times:
“Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. directed a major political fund-raiser to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, sources said the fund-raiser has told federal authorities.
“The allegation by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak counters public statements made as recently as last week by Jackson that he never authorized any deal to attempt to buy the Senate seat.
“Nayak also told authorities he paid for two airline trips for a “social acquaintance” of the Democratic congressman at Jackson’s request, raising more potential ethical and political problems for Jackson.”
Jesse Jackson Jr., the son of the more famous civil rights leader and former presidential candidate by the same name, has denied the allegations.
Jackson has also been under investigation by the House Ethics Committee, though that investigation was suspended a year ago because it “might interfere with pending criminal proceedings and ongoing investigation.”
While the election of Barack Obama to the presidency was a personal triumph for him and a general one for African Americans, it has turned out to be a disaster for his fellow pols back in Chicago. Rod Blagojevich was impeached, removed from office, and then put on trial on 24 federal counts related to allegations that he had placed Obama’s Senate seat pm auction to the highest bidder. Blagojevich was convicted on one count, lying to the FBI, and had a mistrial on the other 23. Prosecutors are contemplating a new trial for the 23 counts.
Chicago has had a long history of corruption and public officials who have wound up in jail for graft and other crimes. Jesse Jackson Jr. is innocent before proven guilty, of course, but he does have further investigations and a possible indictment and trial in his future.
The election of Obama has proved to be bitter sweet for the Jackson family for another reason. For at least a couple of decades, Jesse Jackson Sr. had been the most famous, most powerful African American public figure. Jackson had run for president twice. His son, the younger Jesse Jackson, seemed to be on the track for an eventual presidential run himself. If he had gotten the Obama Senate seat, he would have been positioned for a presidential run himself in 2016 or 2020.
Now Barack Obama has eclipsed the Jacksons as the most famous African American. That is bitter gall and wormwood enough. But Jesse Jackson Jr.’s legal troubles, even if overcome, will likely foreclose any higher office in his future.
Source:Feds: Jesse Jackson Jr. asked fund-raiser to help Blagojevich, pay for acquaintance flight, Natasha Korecki, Chris Fusco AND Lynn Sweet, Chicago Sun-Times, September 21st, 2010