Jesse Jackson Jr. ethics probe resumes

October 19, 2011 8:46:12 PM PDT
A congressional ethics committee has resumed an investigation of Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.

The House Ethics Committee will determine if the congressman acted improperly when he sought the appointment to the U.S. Senate in 2008.

A couple of weeks ago a spokesman in Congressman Jackson's office told ABC7 the only reason the House investigation had not been dismissed was because the ethics committee had not met since the Blagojevich trial ended months ago.

On Tuesday, the committee did meet and did not dismiss the case. That means Jackson might have to endure another campaign under a cloud.

Nine-term Congressman Jackson had no comment on the extended house ethics investigation. While the U.S. Attorney's Office apparently has ended its criminal inquiry into the congressman's role in the Rod Blagojevich corruption case, the House panel has not resolved whether any of its rules were violated in 2008, when Jackson wanted Blagojevich to appoint him to replace Barack Obama in the U.S. Senate.

North Shore Congresswoman Jan Schakowski said she did not know what to make of her colleague's continued ethics trouble.

"I really don't know. And I don't know, I don't know any of the details about this. I don't even know exactly what they're investigating," said Schakowski.

Former 11th District congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, who is challenging Jackson in the newly-drawn Illinois 2nd District, believes the investigation could include more than the Blagojevich matter and could extend to the improper use of campaign funds to, among other things, allegedly flying a mistress to and from Chicago.

"He's been around for 15 years. Jesse knows the rules, he's just chosen not to live by them," said Halvorson.

A conservative Republican majority now controls all House committees, including ethics. In recent news releases, Jackson has joined republicans in criticizing Pres. Obama's jobs program.

"We have been a community in limbo," said community activist Bishop Lance Davis of Dolton.

Davis hopes the congressman, whose district suffers high unemployment, was not trying to court favor with Republicans because of the still open ethics investigation.

"If in fact the congressman is against the president's jobs bill, then this is an absolute misrepresentation of many of us," said Davis.

Halvorson says Jackson's reluctance to discuss the investigation is putting a wall between the congressman and his constituents.

"Maybe he's embarrassed and he doesn't want to be there with the people because he is afraid of people like you or anybody else coming where he is to ask him questions he doesn't want to answer," said Halvorson.

In November of 2010, Jackson won 84 percent of the vote in what party officials agree had been one of the most Democratic congressional districts in the country. But the district has been re-drawn to include many more suburban and rural areas, and Debbie Halvorson is a well-known name in parts of it.


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