The trial of scandal-ridden former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich came to an unjust conclusion weeks ago, as Blago was largely let off the hook for his crimes. But as the government plans its second attempt to prosecute the case, news continues to break regarding Blagojevich’s scheme to sell President Obama’s then-vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times:
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) said Tuesday he is “deeply sorry” for having “disappointed some supporters” regarding his relationship with a female “social acquaintance.”
But the congressman vowed to stay in office in the wake of a Chicago Sun-Times report that a major political fund-raiser has told federal authorities that Jackson directed him to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment for Jackson to the U.S. Senate, to succeed President Obama.
As you may recall, Jackson’s connections to the Blagojevich scandal landed him on Judicial Watch’s list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for 2009. As the Chicago Sun-Times reported back then, emissaries for Jesse Jackson Jr., named “Senate Candidate A” in the Blagojevich indictment, reportedly offered $1.5 million to Blagojevich during a fundraiser if he named Jackson Jr. to Obama’s seat. And three days later federal authorities arrested Blagojevich.
So Jackson is partially correct when he said that these allegations are “not new.” But what is new, however, is that Jackson Jr.’s fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, has come forward to personally tell investigators that Jackson Jr. asked him to offer not $1.5 million, but a whopping $6 million in campaign cash to Blagojevich to secure the Senate seat!
And here’s something else new that emerged this week. Apparently Jackson asked Nayak to “pay to fly a Washington, D.C., restaurant hostess named Giovana Huidobro — described as a ‘social acquaintance’ of the Democratic congressman — to Chicago to visit him.” Nayak reportedly did so twice.
We all know what “social acquaintance” means under these circumstances. Jackson Jr. says this is a “private and personal matter between me and my wife.” But not if it involved public funds, an issue that remains unsettled.
So too is Jackson Jr.’s political future. The Chicago congressman was rumored to be in the crowded field of candidates running for Mayor of Chicago, a possibility that seems more remote in light of recent developments.
Now that Jackson Jr.’s political stock is dropping through the basement floor, the press is chattering about the possibility of Chicago native and current White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel leaving the White House and throwing his hat into the ring to serve as Chicago’s next mayor.
But here’s the thing. Emanuel also has a Blagojevich problem.
As I’ve told you previously, the government cut short its Blagojevich prosecution to avoid implicating White House officials at the highest levels, including Emanuel. According to Judicial Watch blogger Irene Garcia, who did some excellent reporting from the trial, Blagojevich repeatedly ferried messages to President Obama through Emanuel. For example, Blagojevich’s former Chief of Staff John Harris testified that Blagojevich asked him to call Emanuel to see if the president was “still in agreement” that the Senate seat should go to…
…You guessed it, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Only in Chicago.