Jackson, aka 'Candidate 5,' denies wrongdoing

July 21, 2010 1:07:51 PM PDT
Jackson still believes he is the best choice to become the next U.S. Senator from Illinois. The Illinois congressman denied anyone on his staff spoke with the governor about the U.S. Senate seat.

A person claiming to be his emissary allegedly offered to raise up to a million dollars in campaign donations for the governor - if he named Jackson to the Senate seat.

Jesse Jackson Jr. held a press conference from the House Gallery at 3:15 p.m. on Wednesday in Washington.

He said he will meet with federal prosecutors in Chicago to discuss what happened.

Congressman Jackson all but confirmed that he is the IIlinois U.S. Senate contender identified in Blagojevich court documents as "Senate Candidate 5". But he denies any wrongdoing. The question: who is the alleged 'Senate Candidate 5' "associate" who the government alleges approached the Illinois governor with a deal to buy a U.S. Senate seat?

"I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to governor Blagojevich on my behalf," said Jackon.

Soon to begin his eighth term in Congress, Jackson, Jr. said the FBI called him on Tuesday, a few hours after Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested at his North Side home.

Jackson met with Blagojevich for 90 minutes on Monday. He was the last U.S. Senate hopeful to do so.

"I had the opportunity to meet with him for the first time in four years," said Jackson.

In its criminal complaint, the FBI says in a tape-recorded conversation on October 31 Blagojevich described an earlier meeting with an "associate of Senate Candidate 5." Blagojevich: "We were approached 'pay to play'. That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if i made him (Senate Candidate 5) a senator."

On Wednesday afternoon, Jackson's Chicago attorney James Montgomery, said he assumes 'Senate Candidate 5' is Jesse Jackson, Jr.

"Everyone has assumed that congressman Jackson is senate candidate number five," said Montgomery.

Jackson did not take questions after his statement on Capitol Hill. A source close to the congressman tells ABC7 that Jackson and his lawyers will claim that whoever tried to make a deal to buy the Senate seat for campaign contributions were trying to "set up the congressman" who had no idea such contacts had been made on his behalf with the governor.

A source close to the congressman also told ABC7 that some friends of Jackson may have made an unauthorized offer to buy a Senate seat.

The source noted that Jackson's pet project is the construction of a third airport at Peotone and airport supporters - a few with millions of dollars already invested - could have approached the governor independently on the congressman's behalf.

Attorney Montgomery says he will accompany Jackson on Friday or Monday for a face-to-face interview at the U.S. Attorney's office. He insists that the congressman is not a target of federal investigators.

According to an attorney for Jesse Jackson Jr., the congressman is the 'Senate Candidate 5' referenced in the criminal complaint against Il. Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Jackson never had a "pay-to-play" discussion with Blagojevich, who is accused of trying to sell Pres.-Elect Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat to the higher bidder, according to Attorney James D. Montgomery Sr.

Montgomery says Jackson "never authorized anyone to seek the governor's support" for anything of value.

He also said the congressman isn't aware of any associates having made such an overture on his behalf.

Montgomery says Jackson learned he was mentioned in the complaint against Blagojevich the night before the governor's arrest on Tuesday.


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