Democrat Just Re-Elected To House Begins Plea Deal Negotiations For Jail Sentence

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Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. took a leave of absence for the US House back in June, citing “exhaustion.” He is now, apparently, being treated for a mood disorder even as he faces charges for illegal expenditures of campaign dollars, including paying to redecorate his house and buying a $40,000 Rolex for a lady friend.

Despite this, Jackson was re-elected to his House seat in a land slide. And now, just days after winning re-election, he has begun negotiations for a plea deal that will likely land him in jail after he resigns his seat for “health reasons.”

You have to love how ingrained lying is to this process, that “health reasons” would be cited even as the Congressman stepping down is on his way to jail in an oh-so-public fashion.

Jackson, Jr., the son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and husband to Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, has not yet pleaded guilty to alleged misuse of campaign funds to decorate his house and purchase a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. But CBS Chicago reports the congressman’s lawyer, white-collar criminal defense attorney Dan Webb, is negotiating with the federal government a plea bargain that will likely be reached by year’s end.

The tentative deal includes Jackson, Jr.’s resignation from Congress for health reasons, a “guilty” plea involving misuse of campaign funds, and repayment of any contributions that were converted to personal use. At least some jail time is expected. Jackson, Jr.’s pension, which would pay out between $65,000 and $80,000 a year when he turns 62, is also part of the talks.

Webb, who served as Chicago’s top federal prosecutor during the 1980s, helped strike a plea deal for the late Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill. Rostenkowski got 17 months in jail after pleading guilty to converting a congressional postage allowance into personal money, but was allowed to keep his $126,000-a-year pension for the rest of his life.

It’s worth noting that Jackson first won election to this seat representing a Chicago-area district after its previous occupant, Rep. Melvin Reynolds, was sent to jail for having sexual relations with a 16-year-old campaign worker.

Meaning that Jackson would be the second consecutive Congressman to give up this seat because he was sent to jail.

By the way, I don’t think that being sent to prison for crimes unrelated to service in Congress is necessarily grounds for expulsion from Congress. According to Wikipedia, “Rule XI of the Rules of the House of Representatives state that the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct can investigate allegations that a Member violated ‘any law, rule, regulation, or other standard of conduct applicable to the conduct of such Member… in the performance of his duties or the discharge of his responsibilities’.”

Misspending campaign funds probably wouldn’t fall within that jurisdiction.

The latest trend is politicians clinging to their seats even in the midst of sex scandals (Republican David Vitter, Democrat Bob Menendez). I’m waiting for a Congressman to cling to their seat even as they serve a jail sentence.

Because you know it’s going to happen.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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