Jesse Jackson Jr. Pleads Guilty to Abusing Campaign Funds
To say that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is in a world of trouble is an understatement. As you may recall, JW identified Jackson as one of Washington’s Ten Most Wanted corrupt politicians earlier this year.
But now, with his guilty plea in court, Jackson has much more to worry about than the inglorious distinction of making our “most wanted” list. Now he will face prison time.
According to the CBS affiliate in Chicago:
An emotional former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. pleaded guilty in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to misusing $750,000 in campaign funds…
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Jackson was subdued but spoke in a clear voice, telling U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins that he accepts responsibility for his actions. He formally pleaded guilty to a felony count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud and false statements.
During his plea hearing, Jackson wiped his eyes several times, trying to hold back tears and smile.
“I am guilty, your honor,” Jackson said, surrounded by family members, including his parents, who sat in the front row during the hearing.
The former congressman and his wife “routinely used campaign credit cards to make purchases for personal expenses and directed that campaign funds be used to pay the credit card bills for those purchases.” Jackson’s wife, Sandi, also pled guilty to tax fraud after filing six year’s worth of false tax returns.
The Jacksons also reportedly covered up their criminality with false campaign expense reports and instructed one of their assistants to cook the books by failing to itemize personal expenditures, which included: a $43,000 gold-plated Rolex watch, Michael Jackson memorabilia, personal airfare, children’s furniture, vacations, electronics, home appliances, groceries, clothing, and a $26,000 home renovation, according to CBS.
Jackson reportedly also spent $7,000 in campaign funds to buy two stuffed elk heads, later selling the elk heads for cash. Unfortunately for Jackson, the buyer turned out to be an FBI agent.
Now, while all of this is certainly reason enough to send Jackson away for a long time, there’s another black mark on his record that was not even considered by the court. As we noted in our Ten Most Wanted dossier on Jackson, the former Illinois congressman was alleged to have attempted to bribe fellow felon and former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in order to secure Barack Obama’s vacant senate seat.
Blagojevich was tasked with selecting Obama’s replacement when the former Illinois senator assumed his position in the Oval Office. Now, the former-governor-turned-reality star-turned-felon is sitting in a federal prison serving a 14-year sentence.
Jackson’s sentencing day is July 1, 2013; he could face more than four years in prison.