Rep. Jackson breaks silence about Ill. politics

February 21, 2009 4:14:10 PM PST
Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has been maintaining a low profile since the beginning of the scandal that led to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich's removal from office. However, he spoke exclusively with ABC7 Chicago Saturday about the Blagojevich scandal, Roland Burris and his future in politics.

Jesse Jackson, Jr. had wanted desperately to become a United States senator from Illinois, but when references to him popped up in the U.S attorney's case against Blagojevich, Jackson's hopes were dashed and the damage control began.

Now the South Side representative tells ABC7 he is sick of the sideshow that has swallowed the state of Illinois.

"This embarrassing episode in Illinois politics needs to end," said Jackson.

The Democratic representative broke his silence Saturday with harsh words for embattled Sen. Roland Burris, specifically Burris' struggle to come up with a consistent story about his dealings the Blagojevich regime in the weeks leading up to his appointment.

"What's the message we are sending our children with the half truths and deceptions? So, let the chips fall where they may," Jackson said.

The congressman stopped just short of calling on Burris to resign, but he joined Sen. Dick Durbin and President Obama in saying Burris should quickly provide a full account of conversations with Blagojevich and his allies and then consider his options.

The call is more clear from Gov. Pat Quinn, state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Comptroller Dan Hynes, and state House minority leader Tom Cross. They all say Burris should resign.

Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan has been silent on the topic. Chicago Mayor Richard Daley is non-committal.

"He'll have to go out there and explain the facts...Every time something happens, people want you to resign. Wait for his explanation, no rush to judgment," Daley said.

"I think Roland will determine how to handle this, and he'll decide what he's going to do. I don't expect that's he's going to resign," said Rep. Danny Davis, who represents Chicago's West Side.

Burris is continuing his silence in the center of the storm. It's a position Congressman Jackson can relate to.

"There was no one on my staff whatsoever authorized to serve as an emmisary to me with the governor of the state of Illinois, " Jackson said back in December 2008.

In the days after Rod Blagojevich's arrest, prosecutors revealed a person pushing Jackson for Obama's former Senate seat may have offered to raise cash for the beleaguered former governor.

"As the facts have now played themselves out, I think people recognize that, particularly in my case, there was a grave injustice," said Jackson.

Congressman Jackson is a likely candidate for the Senate seat now occupied by Roland Burris, as are several of the other people currently calling for Mr. Burris to resign.