MAY 21, 2009
An Illinois legislator under federal investigation for trying to buy a U.S. Senate appointment from the state’s impeached governor has paid his politician wife hundreds of thousands of dollars in “consulting fees” from his congressional campaign.
Democrat Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the famously corrupt civil rights leader by the same name, was already in trouble when this latest ethical lapse broke this week. The veteran lawmaker is under investigation by the Justice Department and Office of Congressional Ethics for his involvement in an epic national scandal involving criminally indicted former Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Jackson, who is mentioned in Blagojevich’s criminal complaint, was one of several state lawmakers interested in filling Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. To boost his chances with Blagojevich Jackson’s supporters held a fundraising event for the disgraced governor’s cash-strapped campaign right before the FBI arrested him. The Jackson probe is ongoing and he has already spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees.
This week a national news outlet reveals that Jackson’s congressional campaign has paid his wife—a Chicago City Councilwoman—at least $247,500 in consulting fees since 2001, nearly $100,000 of it since she was elected two years ago. The payments were discovered recently because Jackson didn’t list them on congressionally-mandated financial disclosures until this year, claiming that the omission was simply a mistake.
The consulting money continues to pour in monthly even though Sandi Jackson promised constituents she would devote full-time attention to her duties on the council. In addition to the consulting work Jackson’s political committee transferred more than $227,000 to his wife’s campaign since late 2006.
Besides “mistakenly” omitting them on financial disclosures, the Jacksons concealed the payments by using several different corporations named after family members, including their 9-year-old daughter Jessica Donatella whose firm J. Donatella & Associates has benefitted greatly from the corrupt arrangement.
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