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More bad news for Congressman Jackson

Friday, Oct 28, 2011

* Uh-oh

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s brother has personally written to 10 members of Congress with an offer to testify before an ethics committee that last week re-launched its investigation of U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.).

Robert Blagojevich said Thursday that he sent letters to all the members of the U.S. House Committee on Ethics because: “I believe I have information I think will help them find the truth” on Jackson.

He offered his testimony or to be interviewed about Jackson’s effort to secure an appointment by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in late 2008 to fill the U.S. Senate seat left vacant with the election of President Barack Obama.

“Based on what I know, I believe Jesse Jackson Jr. has a lot of unanswered questions that he needs to answer,” Robert Blagojevich said. “There are a lot of unanswered questions he should be required to answer.”

* Robert Blagojevich took over fundraising duties for his brother’s campaign. That’s what got him into trouble and is also where he got involved with Congressman Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the US Senate

As for his own role, Jackson under oath said: “No I did not” direct or order anyone to offer Rod Blagojevich fund-raising in exchange for appointing him senator.

“I never directed anyone to raise money for another politician in my life, other than myself, in 16 years,” Jackson testified.

Last week, the House committee on ethics announced it would restart its probe into Jackson

* An ironic twist

Rod Blagojevich was heard on tape calling U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. “repugnant” and a “bad guy.”

However, on the way to his sentencing hearing, the former governor tried tapping Jackson’s father for a letter of endorsement.

In another twist to the ever-complicated relationship between the Blagojevich and Jackson families, Blagojevich asked the Rev. Jesse Jackson to write letter of support to the sentencing judge.

It was an offer Rev. Jesse Jackson refused, according to a lawyer for both the elder Jackson and his son, the congressman.

“Rev. Jackson will not write a letter on behalf of Gov. Blagojevich,” attorney Paul Langer told the Sun-Times Thursday.

* In other Blagojevich-related news

Illinois lawmakers are dead set against Rod Blagojevich getting another dime from Illinois taxpayers.

On Wednesday, the General Assembly Retirement System, or GARS, Board moved to ensure that the former governor would not collect any of his $65,000-a-year state pension.

The board adopted a rule that will require it to meet and review any application from a person convicted of political corruption during his time working for the state.

* Now, let’s move on to the Cellini trial

A juror was removed Thursday morning from the trial of Springfield power broker William Cellini, forcing the panel to restart its discussions with a new member.

Jury deliberations in the extortion trial had begun Wednesday in the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse in Chicago.

U.S. District Court Judge James Zagel said a juror on Wednesday informed a court officer of a conflict of interest. Zagel declined to reveal the nature of the conflict, saying he was sealing the matter until after the verdict. He did not elaborate further.

Zagel instructed the jury in open court to begin deliberations from scratch.

* And just so we don’t miss any breaking news, here’s our ScribbleLive tracker

- Posted by Rich Miller        

8 Comments
  1. - wordslinger - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 10:46 am:

    The Revenge of Rob.

    I’m sure he doesn’t need to be told, but just in case, make sure you’re granted immunity from prosecution before you raise your right hand and solemnly swear.

    After that, let it rip. Nothing you say can be used against you ever again.

    I wish I could get one of those.


  2. - shore - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 10:50 am:

    my memory of the trial and Rob was that he had to go into financial limbo to pay for his legal defense so he must really hate Jackson to want to have to shell out for the further legal hassle this would involve.


  3. - Way Way Down Here - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 11:11 am:

    Honestly, why would anyone want a letter of support from Rev. Jackson.


  4. - Carl Nyberg - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 11:49 am:

    The Justice Department prosecuted the party trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat but not the party trying to buy the U.S. Senate seat. Why did the U.S. Attorney decide to do this?

    Here’s my take.

    Trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat is an outrage. Trying to buy one is business as usual.

    Unless there’s some detail in this story that makes it salacious or scandalous in a new way, I have trouble seeing voters getting agitated about this.

    I understand Debbie Halvorson and Jackson’s enemies will push the story.

    If Halvorson and her allies can connect the story to voter unhappiness with insiders and Congress, maybe it will catch on.

    But Halvorson’s chief claim to fame is being a political insider herself. What’s her track record fighting for the little guy? When’s she stuck her neck out for someone else?

    Halvorson has to have a credible positive message. Otherwise she’s stuck with the identity “Emil Jones lieutenant” who did an abyssmal job defending a Congressional seat in 2010.

    Halvorson was so far down in the polls so far in advance of that election it was exceedingly difficult to raise money. When other Dems who would lose were still in contention, Halvorson was down by 10-15 points.

    If Halvorson couldn’t stay connected to her Will County working class “White” voters, why would someone think she’s going to stay connected to Black voters in Cook County?


  5. - Rich Miller - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 11:50 am:

    ===Trying to sell a U.S. Senate seat is an outrage. Trying to buy one is business as usual.===

    Actually, federal law mostly treats people hit up for bribes as victims.


  6. - Responsa - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 12:11 pm:

    ==Unless there’s some detail in this story that makes it salacious or scandalous in a new way, I have trouble seeing voters getting agitated about this.==

    You may be misreading public sentiment about this. Rightly or wrongly, Rob is thought of by many to be a victim of a bad system–a system he was largely apart from throughout his life and therefore unequipped to be in. He is seen as a victim of the Feds who fiercely prosecuted him to get to his brother, and before that a victim of his brother who used him and the pull of family loyalty for his own sleazy personal gain. Yes, people understand Rob made some bad choices, but few see him as an integral piece of the entire corrupt system. Most do see JJJ as a player in the corrupt system. If Rob as an outsider, is willing to push the senate seat sale seat further out of the shadows I think voters may be quite interested.


  7. - Team Sleep - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 12:12 pm:

    That Blago asked Rev. Jackson for a letter of support after the grief and future problems he’s caused for JJJ just shows his gall and lack of character. I know I shouldn’t be surprised. But Rob’s willingness to go in front of the Ethics Committee is a huge deal. Several Ethics investigations have involved very little testimony and evidence provided by outside sources. Many Ethics findings are based solely on what the FBI or Justice Department finds. However, a man at the center of this storm is willing to throw JJJ in a bus and offer his own testimony without a subpoena. That has to be worth something. If the Ethics Committee doesn’t at least censure JJJ, they are even more toothless than I thought.


  8. - JP - Friday, Oct 28, 11 @ 12:27 pm:

    I thought JJJ was working deep cover for the FBI as an informant?


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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