Convicted Sex Offender to Enter Race for Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Seat

Former Congressman Mel Reynolds, who resigned in disgrace from the Illinois 2nd Congressional District after being convicted of having sex with an underage campaign worker, wants his old seat back.

Reynolds announced at a press conference on Wednesday that he would join the avalanche of Democrat candidates jumping in line for a chance at picking up the coveted 2nd district seat, now vacated by Jesse Jackson Jr., in the upcoming special election.

Coincidentally, Jackson Jr. originally won that same 2nd district seat after Reynolds' resignation. Jackson abandoned his district for so-called “mental health issues;” he has now admitted publicly he is under investigation by the FBI.

After Reynolds served time for having sex with a 16-year-old female campaign worker, he was hit with further charges of improperly using campaign funds. President Clinton later commuted Reynolds' sentence to time served and he was once again a free man.

Reynolds attempted to regain the congressional district seat once again in 2006 against his successor Jackson Jr. However, Reynolds could only muster up a mere 6% of the vote.

Chicago has a bountiful history of criminal politicians, of course—many of whom hold a proclivity for breaking law during the course of their tenure. Reynolds was no different. And while Reynolds claims he should not be judged for past mistakes—mistakes Mark Brown of the Chicago Sun-Times claims Reynolds has stopped far short of admitting—he has also failed to redeem himself in his time out of prison.

Brown notes Reynolds' troubled history with his landlord in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood, along with other financial civil judgments in recent years.

He was evicted in 2010 from a home in Bronzeville after a five-year legal battle over his alleged non-payment of rent.

One of the lawyers who defended him in that case is still seeking payment from Reynolds for $12,542 in fees.

At his press conference, Reynolds said he shouldn’t continue to be punished for his past “mistakes”—a reference to his convictions for having sex with an underage campaign worker and for financial and campaign fraud.

“You know, all of us have fallen short of our dreams in life on occasion, but it is part of the Judeo-Christian spirit to give people the opportunity to show what they can do,” he said. “The most important thing, I believe, for a person when they make mistakes is what they do after they’ve made mistakes.’’

Who knows; it is Chicago. Maybe Reynolds can pull it off. Derreck Smith, a state representative in a nearby district, was just re-elected by his constituents despite being kicked out of the Illinois General Assembly earlier this year after finding himself indicted on bribery charges. 


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