Blagojevich arrest, Blagojevich taped conversations, Blagojevich pay-to-play
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill.

Jackson’s Account of Blagojevich Bribes Gives Scandal New Twist

December 18, 2008 12:24 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
News about an alleged quid pro quo involving Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s wife raises more questions about Jackson’s role in the Rod Blagojevich corruption scandal.

Jackson Says Blagojevich Sought Money

Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich asked Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., D-Ill., for a campaign contribution of $25,000 during his 2002 gubernatorial run, the congressman told federal investigators. 

On Dec. 16, an individual close to Jackson also said that the governor may have sought revenge when Jackson didn’t hand over the money, according to The Washington Post. As the Associated Press reports, “Shortly after his 2002 election, Gov. Rod Blagojevich told Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. he didn’t appoint the congressman’s wife for lottery director because he had refused to make a $25,000 donation to the governor’s campaign,” quoting an unnamed source familiar with the conversation.

An opinion piece in the Kansas City Star lays out some of the questions raised by the new developments: because of the lottery quarrel, “did Jackson then decide to entrap Blagojevich by getting him to ask for money in exchange for giving Jackson the Illinois Senate seat?”

The news of Blagojevich’s alleged request emerged from the investigation by the Illinois House of Representatives special impeachment committee, according to the Post. The committee is probing into the Blagojevich case following the governor’s arrest by FBI agents last week. Blagojevich faces corruption charges relating to the alleged attempted sale of the Senate seat being vacated by President-elect Barack Obama, but he has indicated that he will seek to maintain his position.
“He’s not stepping aside. He hasn’t done anything wrong. We’re going to fight this case,” Ed Genson, Blagojevich’s attorney, declared as he prepared for a Wednesday appearance before the bipartisan impeachment committee.

The committee is expected to reveal its suggestions on the governor’s future by mid-January, when the General Assembly is scheduled to meet.

Jackson has not been charged with any misconduct as a result of the investigation. The congressman is known to have campaigned to be appointed to Obama’s Senate seat, but claims that he “sought the Senate seat honestly and knew of no illegal plan to influence Blagojevich,” the Post reports.

Background: Attorney Calls Jackson “Senate Candidate 5”

Just over a week ago, news surfaced that Jackson's lawyer, James D. Montgomery, confirmed the congressman as “Senate Candidate 5.” The statement indicated that Jackson was the potential tap to fill Obama’s Senate seat, contingent on paying a bribe of as much as $1 million to Blagojevich.

Montgomery stressed that Jackson never offered to put up the cash or offer any other favors allegedly requested by the governor, however. Montgomery also said that Jackson was unware of the identity of “Individual D,” the person who allegedly ventured to pay Blagojevich the kickback to secure Jackson’s appointment.

“Congressman Jackson has never authorized anyone to seek the governor’s support in return of money, fund-raising or other things of value,” Montgomery said at a press conference. “Secondly, the congressman is not aware of any alleged associate having made such a proposal.”

The probe, which Blagojevich likened to “Nixon and Watergate,” revealed that on Oct. 31 Blagojevich’s staff was “approached to ‘pay to play’” by a representative of someone referred to by Fitzgerald only as “Senate Candidate 5.”

“I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing,” Jackson said in a statement after Blagojevich’s arrest.

Jackson is the son of the famous civil rights activist Jesse Jackson. He has represented Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, which covers parts of Chicago’s South Side as well as some adjacent suburbs, since 1995.

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