I-Team: Inside the Jackson Scheme

February 19, 2013 10:00:00 PM PST
How did Jesse Jackson Jr. manage to illegally accumulate so much stuff over a seven-year period?

Finally brought to justice, Jackson summarized his scheme for the judge: "I used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes." Inside the scheme, it was a far more intricate operation to convert his campaign money into personal funds.

Jackson didn't do it alone. It wasn't an informal arrangement. There was quite a cover up, constructed of lies and deceit.

"What is the message we are sending our children with the half-truths and deceptions?" When then-Congressman Jackson said that in 2009 he was referring to other corrupt Illinois politicians. At that very moment, Jackson himself was in the middle of a scheme built on half-truths and deceptions.

A chart displayed by federal authorities shows Jackson's money diversion from August 2005 through last summer: mounted elk heads at more than $5,000, a Michael Jackson guitar and other celebrity memorabilia for tens of thousands more.

"Keeping this enormous fraud and these cash gifts a secret, required Jesse Jackson Jr. to repeatedly lie to the federal election commission and U.S. House of Representatives on various disclosure forms," said U.S. attorney Ron Machen. "For example, when Mr. Jackson spent $1,500 in election funds on a porcelain item from a Chicago museum, he told the FEC that the money was spent to rent a room for a campaign fundraiser. When he spent $400 of campaign money at the Home Depot to buy supplies for his lawn, he told the FEC that the money was being used to buy equipment for this campaign office."

Investigators say Jackson Jr. gave campaign money directly to his wife Sandi for personal purchases.

Newly filed court records also show Jackson Jr. used campaign funds to overpay a top staff member so she could give money to him and his wife for their bills. While that person is identified only as "Person A," court and campaign finance records suggest it was Terry Jones, a Jackson third cousin who eventually rose to become his campaign treasurer.

"He also depended on secret gifts of over $75,000 in gifts from third parties that he funneled through his congressional staff members and other people," said Machen.

Jones has not been charged in connection with this case. She now lives in Maryland and was not reachable Wednesday for comment. Federal agents say she was in cahoots with Jackson's wife to streamline purchases of personal luxury items.

There is nothing in the documents to indicate what was in all this for Jones--other than following her boss's orders.

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