Yesterday, former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison for, among other things, attempting to “sell” the US Senate seat that was once held by President Barack Obama. Blagojevich’s punishment comes on the heels of the U.S. House Ethics Committee’s decision to continue its investigation into Congressman Jesse Jackson’s role in the same scheme.
On December 2, the House Ethics Committee announced that it was continuing its investigation of Jackson for his alleged public campaign to “buy” the Senate seat in question. It is alleged by investigators that Jackson may have made unlawful use of his congressional office for these political activities as House rules prohibit the use of official resources for any political purposes. The investigation of Congressman has been underway for over two years.
Congressman Jackson, the son of the Reverend Jesse Jackson, is in his 9th term in the United States House of Representatives. The sentencing of the former Governor, coupled with the recent decision by House Committee to continue its investigation, are surely blows for Mr. Jackson he faces a difficult primary challenge. Former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson is running against Jackson in the upcoming Democrat primary and has been discussing the Congressman’s legal and ethical problems in her attacks on Jackson.
Much like Blagojevich had done during his trial, Jackson maintains his innocence and says he will be cleared of these allegations. A letter to the House committee drafted by his lawyers stated that Jackson “did not direct or know” of any offer to provide campaign money to the disgraced former governor.
Many question Jackson’s ability to withstand a strong primary challenge with these scandals swirling all around him. Surely yesterday’s news will not help his efforts toward reelection.
NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm stated, “Jackson-like Blagojevich-has a history of questionable political ethics. So this comes as no surprise. Once again Chicago appears to be a sinkhole of corruption.”
Boehm continued, “This is another test for the Ethics Committee, which keeps failing its assignments. The House cannot rely on far away criminal prosecutors to police itself. The charges against Jackson are about as serious as they get. Either the Republican majority is committed to ethics or it is not.”