Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. directed a major political fund-raiser to offer former Gov. Rod Blagojevich millions of dollars in campaign cash in return for an appointment to the U.S. Senate, sources said the fund-raiser has told federal authorities. […]
…[Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak] said he had a critical conversation with the congressman about the seat while the two were alone. Nayak, also a former Blagojevich fund-raiser, said that Jackson asked him to tell Blagojevich that if the then-governor appointed Jackson to the U.S. Senate, Chicago’s Indian community would raise $1 million for Blagojevich and — after Jackson was appointed — Jackson would raise $5 million for the then-governor.
The Oak Brook businessman had been in Washington for a bill signing regarding U.S.-India relations. Jackson picked up Nayak from the White House, where they posed for a picture together. The photo was entered into evidence during Blagojevich’s summer trial.
Nayak also told authorities he paid for two airline trips for a “social acquaintance” of the Democratic congressman at Jackson’s request, raising more potential ethical and political problems for Jackson.
The FBI interviewed that acquaintance — a Washington, D.C., restaurant hostess named Giovana Huidobro — about a year ago as part of its corruption probe of Blagojevich. […]
[Huidobro] also said she flew to Chicago on several occasions at Jackson’s request and that Jackson sometimes reimbursed her for her travels.
Nayak told the FBI that he paid for two airline trips for Huidobro from Washington to Chicago in 2008.
Now, new revelations suggest that an Indian-American businessman, Raghuveer Nayak, was doing favors of another kind for Jackson.
A Chicago Sun-Times report today that Nayak - the same political fundraiser who told federal authorities he agreed to help Jackson get the Senate seat - bought airline tickets for a restaurant hostess to visit Jackson in Chicago paints Jackson as a sleazy wheeler dealer with friends to get him anything his heart desired.
Here’s what we know for sure: A meeting between Rod Blagojevich and Jackson did take place on Dec. 8, 2008, at which the Senate seat was discussed.
And the next day Blagojevich was arrested by FBI agents for, among other things, trying to sell the Senate seat.
Mess with the bull, get the horn.
*** UPDATE 1 *** Ms. Huidobro is also a model and has served as a “host” for her modeling agency, according to its website.
*** UPDATE 2 *** The Tribune confirms most of the Nayak stuff with their own sources.
*** UPDATE 3 *** Congressman Jackson responds…
“The allegations about fundraising and the Senate seat are not new. I’ve already talked with the authorities about these claims, told them they were false, and no charges have been brought against me. The very idea of raising millions of dollars for a campaign other than my own is preposterous. My interest in the Senate seat was based on years of public service, which I am proud of, not some improper scheme with anyone.
“The reference to a social acquaintance is a private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago. I ask that you respect our privacy.
“I know I have disappointed some supporters and for that I am deeply sorry. But I remain committed to serving my constituents and fighting on their behalf.”
Well, he pretty much just confirmed the “social acquaintance” angle. The media should be commencing with the feeding frenzy any moment now.
“Today’s disclosure, one that my family and I have been privately addressing for several months, is a very private, painful and unfortunate situation. Therefore, I would hope that the public will respect our ongoing personal handling and healing from this matter,'’ she said in the statement.
* Sneed: New gig for Rod Blagojevich: Blago — who is desperate to support his family and fund additional lawyers for his upcoming trial — has inked a deal for major bucks to star in a national commercial.
Jesse Jackson Jr is toast politically. To launch a mayoral candidacy in the wake of this Blagojevich stuff is either the height of arrogance or stupidity … not sure which. He should focus on being a good congressman.
“Sources” familiar with an investigation often are not federal agents or prosecutors. Instead, they are one or more defense lawyers who have either represented witnesses who have been interviewed, or had conversations with prosecutors and other defense lawyers about their clients and thereby learned something of the status of the investigation.
- Leave a Light on George - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 11:02 am:
Thanks to the Tribune jumping the shark on the wire taps we lost our opportunity to have both a sitting governor and senator under indictment at the same time. Wouldn’t that have been special.
I always thought it was silly that the Feds indicted Blago for trying to sell a senate seat, but didn’t indict the other side of the transaction, i.e., the person who presumably tried to buy and presumably offerred a bribe.
That’s part of the Feds’ bungling that I think led to Blago mostly getting off.
If that person on the other side of the alleged transaction was in fact Jesse Jr., then I think not including him in the case reflected the Feds fear of Jesse Jr. and the racial firestorm he’s capable of unleashing.
But if the press attention keeps up I think Patrick Fitzgerald is going to be forced to do his job.
I so want to write something here, but I know Rich will delete even though I heard it from the horse’s mouth. Because I respect Rich, I won’t post it, but boy is it a doosie! Even better than flying in a restaurant hostess.
Wordslinger — they can also sometimes be defense lawyers in cases that have been filed, or even defendants themselves, who have had access to discovery materials produced in a prosecution. Just sayin’ it happens sometimes.
I certainly hope that the national advertiser is not a company with which I currently do business, because I will absolutely NOT buy that company’s product. I thought the point of advertising was to attract customers, not drive them away.
I’m no fan of Jr. or the Jacksons, but I just find this story
to be so very sad. it’s bad enough that there is corruption.
now there’s a hostess angle and no one, not the Jackson
family, nor the public in general, needs any more of that.
from the Tiger mess we know that worlds other than politics
often have this additional tawdry feature. Please, very public
figures and private ones alike, please focus on doing your
actual job. it’s a tough world, stop making it rougher
on those close to you and those of us watching. ugh.
NT - in the old days we used to use contraptions called the telephone and the fax machine to send our tips to Rich.
You’re so right about inviting this on himself. But didn’t his bravado start right after his meeting with Rahm. Makes me wonder if maybe chess master Rahm goaded him into making a statement like that. Like maybe Rahm said - you’re not going to run - you’re toast - everyone knows that Fitz has got stuff on you, etc.
Sounds to me that the story came from aggressive reporters plus talkative defense attorneys speaking ‘off the record’. If the US Attorney or the FBI leaked this tawdry information after JJJ’s dare, that would be grossly unprofessional misconduct.
- - -“Sources” familiar with an investigation often are not federal agents or prosecutors. Instead, they are one or more defense lawyers who have either represented witnesses who have been interviewed, or had conversations with prosecutors and other defense lawyers about their clients and thereby learned something of the status of the investigation. —
At this stage of the game, the only ones with access to this type of information (other than the U.S. Attorneys Office) would likely be the attorneys for the brothers Blagojevich. I’m doubting Rob’s lawyers are interested in pulling the tiger’s tail at this point — which leaves only one set of suspects.
Aside from all of that, how is it remotely legal for JJJ to have paid his wife $240,000+ in federal campaign funds under ALIASES– and why has no Chicago paper even sniffed the story?
Jesse Jackson’s FEC reports list payments as being made to J. Donatella & Associates, which [a staffer] described as “Sandi’s sole proprietorship” for her consulting work. The couple’s oldest child is 9-year-old Jessica Donatella Jackson.
From 2003 through mid-2005, the recipient is shown on Jackson’s reports as “Lee Stevens” or “Lee Steven” at the J. Donatella firm. Sandi Jackson’s middle name is Lee. Her maiden name is Stevens.
Responsa-I highly doubt it…Maybe it’s one down a few more to go as one way of Rahm’s clearing the Mayoral candidate field…I never understood why triple J wasn’t called on to testify in Blago trial #1, now I can see the political wisdom in not doing so…
the thing about using birth name, man or woman. anyone
is allowed to use whatever name they like as long as there
is no intent to defraud. this story with various names for
a firm and those paid all being one person, Sandy Jackson,
sounds like intent to obfuscate if not something else too.
“The revelations Tuesday involve interviews with the FBI that predate the Blagojevich trial.”
Interview reports that likely were turned over to defendants’ counsel in the Blago trial. Which doesn’t prove who leaked this story. But it does suggest that access to the information was not limited to the federales.
- He said, he said - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 12:26 pm:
Okay. I read the story, and Nayak says Jackson told him to, and Jackson says he didn’t. Isn’t that where we were months ago? And it seems like that “new” allegation from Nayak is used as a hook for a story that’s really about “Congressman has blond friend.” May be tawdry, but if it’s illegal –I’d estimate there are roughly 350 congresscritters who should be facing indictment. Sorry — this one feels like a cheap shot to me.
- He said, he said - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 12:32 pm:
And incidentally — I don’t think it stretches credulity that a fundraiser would make an offer like that without telling his favorite pol first. I can see that someone might think the Congressman would want “plausible deniability”– and if Rod’s answer is no, there’s no loss of face, for the fundraiser or JJJ — at least from the fundraiser’s point of view.
Is it possible that JJJ was the brains behind the operation — of course it is. But are there equally plausible theories? Yup.
introductions are in order here: Hubris, this is trips, trips, this is Hubris.
Since trips had knoweldge o what he was doing why would he in his right mind call out the feds like that! he should have been saying a quiet prayer for the bullet dodged, not lodinging the gun in his own mouth.
Yeah, He said, he said. Nothing at all to see here. That’s why every Democrat running for office in the state is not concerned at all today with JJJ bringing down more party infamy and scrutiny just five weeks before the election.
“Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted an opportunity to clear the air, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice opportunity, and when it was over, I never wanted another.”
So its time or Sandi to toss trips and pursue her promising political carreer, unimpeded by his baggage.
- He said, he said - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 12:53 pm:
As a supporter of many Democrats running for office, I understand the widespread wailing and gnashing of teeth about JJJ deciding to be noisy about this topic at this time. But I don’t see the news here — really.
Not surprised, this is Illinois, government is always for sale here, but I would like to be
a fly on the wall when these Indian and other businesspersons from other countries get together and talk about what it’s like to do business in Illinois. Must be a lot of snickers, especially since so many prominent Americans, pols and others, are so fond of criticizing India, China, et al.
If Illinois were a country, where would it fall
on the corruption index, I wonder.
I don’t think it is just he said/he said. You have the corroborating testimony of Bedi at Blago’s trial. It’s not like we all didn’t think we knew the truth, but the necessary evidence wasn’t there — seems it is, now.
Congressman Jackson should get used to the idea of being Congressman Jackson. If he gets to the Mayor’s office it will be with his next possible gig as host of “Wild Chicago” on Channel 11. I think he will look good in a pith helmet.
By the way some one more ambitious than me may want to make a video of this debacle to the song “Jesse’s Girl”.
I am guessing this is the stuff behind the feds request that the House hold off on it’s ethics investigation of JJJ. But now that this is out they will have to do something. Contrary to what “He said, he said” believes, if true…..this would be a pretty serious violation of house ethics rules. Tickets for a “social aquaintance” are gifts (and possibly exhibit A in a messy divorce)
- Windy City Mama - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 2:09 pm:
Didn’t Jesse tell the Feds to bring it on ? So what’s the problem Jesse ? Better watch what you say on the radio.
- lake county democrat - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 2:16 pm:
- The End Is Near - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 2:47 pm:
Trips probably could have kept Ms. Huidobro under the radar if he’d had her flown in and out town via a third airport just south of Chicago.
- he said, he said - Tuesday, Sep 21, 10 @ 2:50 pm:
Is that a gift to JJJ, or a gift to the woman? I realize we’re in a gray territory here. But if one of my friends sends me a plane ticket to Washington and I have dinner with Senator Burris while I’m there, does he have to report the value of the ticket?
I’m SURE if Pat Fitzgerald could have used Jacksons participation in this to convict Blago he would have. Having said that, the allegations do damage Jackson from a public relations perspective. I don’t feel bad for him, but he’s not been convicted of anything. This is just typical political mudslinging.
I am guessing this is a “grassy knoll” thing … Everyone was waiting for Jesse, Jr., to do the “right” thing, accept his lot in congress and be done with it.
The “Bring it on” was too much for too many holding their powder, especially the Rahm crew … but don’t be suprised if there was a “Bridgeport-5th floor” push to “educate” the press about the congressman. The “old masn” hasn’t been a Daley friend too often … so “confirm” some things about the kid(?)
How about it wordslinger, intersting parlor game: who beefed, why, and for waht gain. The taken-aback fundraiser is just too easy to concede … more is afoot.
I was just thinking about this a little more, and it was really dumb of JJJ to basically confirm the story about the hostess being true, because it give a lot more credibility to Nayak and his allegations regarding the senate seat.
Sound political judgment for the Jackson’s to make vague acknowledgment of bad facts, raise the ‘personal matter’ shield and pretend nothing is the matter. That said, people like sordid affairs and potential indictments in their TV dramas, not in their real life politicians.
Also, bad political judgment to have used a phrase that is linked to recent disastrous political judgments. I can hear Axelrod now, “‘Bring it On’? You might as well say ‘national malaise’”!