Peoria Public Radio Staff
Fri February 15, 2013
Jesse Jackson Jr. Charged With Illegally Spending Campaign Funds
Originally published on Fri February 15, 2013 6:04 pm
Former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. of Illinois was charged Friday with conspiring with an unnamed person to illegally spend campaign funds.
As Politico reports, some of that money was spent on buying a $43,000 Rolex watch, "fur coats and memorabilia associated with Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Bruce Lee."
"Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of between 46 and 57 months for Jackson Jr., as well as a fine of $10,000 to $100,000, and forfeiture of a yet-to-be-determined portion of the misspent $750,000 in campaign funds."
Jackson, the son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, resigned from Congress last November, acknowledging his "share of mistakes."
He had just won reelection in his Chicago district, despite taking months of medical leave without providing a prompt explanation for his absence.
Jackson eventually revealed he was suffering from bipolar II.
Update at 4:10 p.m. ET. 'No Excuses':
Jackson issued a statement saying he offered no excuses. He wrote:
"I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made. To that end I want to offer my sincerest apologies to my family, my friends and all of my supporters for my errors in judgment and while my journey is not yet complete, it is my hope that I am remembered for the things that I did right."
Update at 4:23 p.m. ET. Wife Charged:
The AP reports that Jackson is charged with conspiracy and his wife, Sandra, is charged with "one count of filing false joint federal income tax returns for the years 2006 through 2011."
Update at 4:27 p.m. ET. 'Overt Acts'
The charging documents filed with the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, detail what it calls "overt" illegal acts. In July of 2007, for example, prosecutors claim Jackson bought a $43,350 gold-plated, men's Rolex watch with campaign money directly.
In July of 2008, prosecutors charge that Jackson used a campaign credit card to buy $9,587.64 "worth of children's furniture." The items were shipped to his home, the charging documents detail.
At other times, prosecutors claim, Jackson funneled funds through a third party. For example in March of 2009, Jackson directed a person to issue a $4,000 check to another person for services that the person didn't really perform for the campaign.
Then that same day Jackson directed that person to write him a $3,500 check using "funds Person A received from the campaign."
Update at 5:28 p.m. ET. Sandi Jackson Pleads Guilty:
Attorneys for Sandi Jackson said she had agreed to plead guilty to "one count of tax fraud."
"Ms. Jackson has accepted responsibility for her conduct, is deeply sorry for her actions, and looks forward to putting this matter behind her and her family," the statement from Dan Webb and Tom Kirsch read. "She is thankful for the support of her family and friends during this very difficult time."
Update at 6:54 p.m. ET. 'Bitterly Disappointed':
Don Rose, a longtime Chicago political analyst who has worked for both Democrats and Republicans, said he was "bitterly disappointed" by the news.
"He was a very progressive legislator, very smart guy, as good as they came until we found out about this," Rose told our Newscast unit.
He said that coming from the family he does, Jackson must've known the rules of campaign money. He hired his wife, for example, as a political consultant, which Rose said is a legitimate way of using campaign money.
"There are hundreds of ways, legitimate ways, of turning campaign money for personal purposes," Rose said. "You may have missed a beat here and there or, you may have just taken a shortcut here or there but this amount that they wound up taking I think indicates [it's] not a mistake."