Blago trial done, Jesse Jackson Jr. probe may begin

June 28, 2011 4:30:42 PM PDT
The end of one case could be the beginning of another: A congressional investigation of South Side U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.

In this Intelligence Report: Now that Rod Blagojevich's trial is finished, the door is open for House Ethics investigators.

An investigation by the House Ethics Committee was set to begin last November, looking into whether Congressman Jackson offered to raise campaign funds for Blagojevich in exchange for Jackson's appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama. But last November, with federal investigators preparing for Blagojevich's retrial, Justice Department officials asked the House Ethics Committee to hold off until the ex-governor's trial ended.

With the end of the trial, that time is here, signaled by Blagojevich's temporary re-entry into reality Tuesday, driving his daughter to summer school.

"A lot of what life is is how you deal with adversities...and it's an example to your children of how you deal with the tough times," said Blagojevich.

But Congressman Jackson was nowhere in public Tuesday. His spokesman tells the I-Team that Jackson will have no comment on the guilty verdict in the Blagojevich case. The spokesman says Jackson's office had not been contacted on Tuesday by House Ethics Committee investigators.

In November, an ethics investigation directed from Capitol Hill was to look at whether Representative Jackson Jr. -- or an agent of Jackson's acting for him -- offered to raise campaign funds for Governor Blagojevich in return for Jackson's appointment to the Obama Senate seat.

The Blagojevich trial put that investigation on ice, and a little more than a month ago the trial featured Jackson Jr. called as the very first witness to testify for the Blagojevich defense. In 30 minutes of sworn testimony Jackson said he never offered to raise money for the former governor in exchange for an appointment to the U.S. Senate. Blagojevich was convicted of scheming to sell or trade that appointment for his own gain.

Jackson Jr. said he never authorized anyone to tell Blagojevich that he or his supporters would raise money for the governor if Jackson were named to the U.S. Senate.

Ethics committee investigators would likely look at a reported meeting at a Chicago restaurant between Jackson, a former Blagojevich aide, and an Illinois businessman during which there was said to be a discussion of a $1 million campaign pledge for Blagojevich if Jackson was named senator.

Congressman Jackson has said that he cooperated with the FBI investigation of Blagojevich.

Jackson acknowledged in May that he is the subject of an initial inquiry from a newly-formed bipartisan review panel in Washington. But the real concern for any member of the House is being investigated by the full ethics committee, and that is the other shoe that Congressman Jackson is waiting to drop.

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