Obama’s Former Campaign Co-Chair Convicted of Misusing Campaign Funds

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by Sharon Rondeau

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from the House of Representatives in late November amidst a federal investigation into his alleged misuse of campaign funds. He and his wife pleaded guilty on Wednesday and will be sentenced this summer.

(Feb. 21, 2013) — Beginning on June 10, 2012, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was absent from Congress without explanation.  Jackson is the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who founded the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition and has been a presidential candidate.

Father and son worked together in the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition during the 1990s, and both have had extramarital affairs.  Michelle Obama reportedly knew Jesse Jackson Sr. prior to meeting Barack Obama.

Last summer, it was announced that Jackson Jr. was suffering from bipolar disorder and depression and receiving medical care from the Mayo Clinic.  In November, it was reported that Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi were under federal investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds and that negotiations for plea deals were in progress.

While Jackson’s congressional website is still active, another Illinois congressman said in December that he was not expected to return to Congress.  After being re-elected in November, Jackson officially resigned his seat several weeks later.  Jackson had represented the Second Congressional District, which included the South Side of Chicago, where the Obamas and Rev. Louis Farrakhan have homes.

Recently the South Side has been the scene of gun violence which has killed at least two young people, one of whom had performed with her high school band at Obama’s second inauguration, and the other had a sister who had attended Obama’s talk on gun violence last Friday at the Hyde Park Academy.

On February 8, 2013, Jackson pleaded guilty to misusing $750,000 sourced to his campaign funds and used for personal purchases including memorabilia of Michael Jackson and Malcolm X.  The plea deal involves conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and making false statements.  In December 2011, Jackson claimed he was innocent of any charges.

Jackson’s wife resigned her position as a Chicago councilwoman last month, citing health concerns for her husband.

Jackson was under investigation in August 2009 by the House Ethics Committee for pursuing fundraising for Blagojevich in apparent exchange for Blagojevich’s solicited appointment of Jackson to the vacant Senate seat.  While Jackson and Blagojevich were not friendly at the time, Jackson actively petitioned Blagojevich for the seat by running a public popularity campaign and inventing a scheme to raise $6,000,000 for Blagojevich. Jackson denied any part in a “pay to play” plot involving the Senate seat.  However, Jackson was reported to have “coveted” the Senate seat vacated by Obama.

Blagojevich had reportedly taken $25,000 bribes to appoint people to Illinois boards and commissions, and Jackson Jr.’s wife had been passed over as a result of failing to pay.  Jackson had told federal investigators of Blagojevich’s quid pro quo practice as early as 2003.

Both Jackson and his wife “accepted responsibility” for their actions during the court proceedings on Wednesday.  Jackson will be sentenced on June 28, with his wife’s sentencing scheduled for several days later.

Jackson and Obama were reportedly well-acquainted, as Obama had asked Jackson to co-chair his U.S. Senate campaign in 2004 and presidential campaign in 2008.  The Wall Street Journal reported that Jackson “was an early supporter of Obama’s presidential campaign and even wrote a piece in the Chicago Sun-Times criticizing his dad for chastising Obama.”

Obama and Blagojevich appeared together publicly before Blagojevich was convicted on several charges involving public corruption, including attempting to sell the Senate seat.  Obama claimed he had no dealings with Blagojevich about who should be appointed to the seat.  Blagojevich had attempted to subpoena Obama to testify at his trial, but Obama’s attorneys refused to make him available.

During the investigation of Blagojevich, secret FBI recordings identified Jackson Jr. as “Senate Candidate Five.”

Tony Rezko, a bundler for Blagojevich, was sent to prison for more than ten years for money laundering, bribery and fraud.  Rezko, Obama, Jarrett, Jackson Jr., Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Blagojevich are all acquainted, as explained by Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.

Obama has been accused of identity fraud, Social Security fraud, election fraud, forgery, and treason against the United States of America.  To date, no formal charges have been filed to the public’s knowledge.

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