Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and his top fundraiser offered to buy President Obama’s U.S. Senate seat for $1 million even though Jackson denies involvement in the pay-to-play scheme at the center of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s corruption trial.
The son of the world-renowned “civil rights” con man met with the disgraced ex governor’s representative in late 2008 to push for the Senate post vacated when Obama became president. With him was a prominent Democratic fundraiser, Chicago businessman Raghuveer Nayak, who offered to raise $1 million for Blagojevich in exchange for appointing Jackson, who represents Chicago’s south side in the U.S. House, to the Senate.
Details of the scandalous meeting were revealed by federal prosecutors this week during Blagojevich’s trail in a Chicago federal courtroom where weeks of political drama have unfolded. The impeached governor has been charged with a multitude of felonies—including several counts of bribery, extortion and conspiracy—for trying to sell the Senate seat and court testimony proves that Obama, his chief of staff (Rahm Emanuel) and top advisor (Valerie Jarrett) were deeply involved in the ploy.
In fact, the president and his two key advisors were repeatedly mentioned in testimony last week, as the White House desperately tried to put distance between the commander-in-chief and the monstrous political scandal. Blagojevich’s top aide, John Harris, testified that Obama gave the governor a list of “acceptable” candidates to fill his old post and that Blagojevich routinely delivered messages involving the Senate appointment to Obama through Emanuel.
A Chicago union leader with deep ties to Obama also testified that the president called him to convince Blagojevich to appoint Jarrett, his longtime confidante, who was interested in being Senator early on. She ended up taking a White House job to remain close to Obama.
Jackson is simply one of many high-profile politicians mentioned in court testimony almost daily, though he has vehemently denied any involvement. In secret FBI recordings played for the jury, Blagojevich frequently uses profanity to express his disdain for the congressman and at one point calls the possibility of naming him Senator “ridiculous” and “offensive.”