And so the surreal criminal saga of former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. ("JJJR", "Junior" or just "Jackson") has ended. Jackson, 47, a prominent Chicagoan son of the civil-rights leader of the same name for the handful of people who are unaware, was a national co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and an advocate of traditional Democratic Party constituencies. He disappeared in June, and it was later revealed that he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues, although now it appears kleptomania may have been one of the afflictions treated too. He returned to his Washington home in September but went back to the clinic the next month. As Bloomberg summarizes, "he pushed to maintain government support for the poor, including welfare, assistance for heating bills and the Head Start early education program." He certainly was very generous with other people's money.
So generous, in fact, that hours ago he was charged with "misusing", also known as stealing, some $750,000 in campaign funds for purchases including a $43,350 gold Rolex watch, $5,150 for fur capes and parkas, $9,588 worth of "children's furniture", Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia and much more.
At the same time Jackson’s wife, Sandra Stevens Jackson, was charged in a separate case with filing false tax returns. She faces a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Junior's charge has a maximum term of five years in prison. More importantly, he is sorry (to be caught, we can only surmise): "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."
We hope Jackson's career-ender is a shining beacon of light what happens when the "misuse" of other people's money is finally exposed, especially, as the case may be, when once it finally all runs out.
No court dates have been set.
William Miller, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen in Washington, declined to comment on the charges.
Jackson’s wife will plead guilty to one count of tax fraud, her lawyers, Dan Webb and Tom Kirsch of Winston & Strawn LLP, said in a statement.
“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,” according to the statement.
Jackson, who ended a career of almost 17 years in the U.S. Congress by resigning in November, won a special election for a vacant House seat in 1995 and began serving on Dec. 12 of that year. He subsequently never garnered less than 81 percent of the general-election vote in his district on Chicago’s South Side until last year when he won a 10th House term with 63 percent.
His wife resigned her Chicago alderman seat last month.
Jackson was a national co-chairman of President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign and an advocate of traditional Democratic Party constituencies. He pushed to maintain government support for the poor, including welfare, assistance for heating bills and the Head Start early education program.
Jackson was caught up in the scandal surrounding former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s attempts to sell an appointment to Obama’s former Senate seat. Identified in court papers as “Senate Candidate 5” who was willing to raise money for the governor’s re-election, Jackson denied the allegations and said he wasn’t a target in the federal probe.
Blagojevich was convicted in June 2011 and sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Educated at the elite Washington prep school St. Albans, Jackson graduated from North Carolina A&T State University in 1987. He earned a master’s degree in theology from Chicago Theological Seminary and a law degree from University of Illinois College of Law.
And since everyone only wants to know just what "memorabilia" and other trinkets he spent $750,000 of taxpayer money on, here is the list from the conspiracy charge:
- $43,350 gold-plated Rolex;
- $9,587.64 worth of children's furniture;
- $5,150 worth of fur capes and parkas
- $1,553 porcelain collector's items
And then this:
Full complaint below