Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) -- the disgraced former Congressman and son of liberal icon Jesse Jackson -- is preparing to plead guilty to federal charges filed today in Washington, DC. Jackson is expected to admit to misusing $750,000 dollars from his campaign war chest, and faces up to five years in federal prison:
Jackson, who left the public eye last summer for treatment of bi-polar disorder and resigned from office in November, is not expected to make an appearance [in court], but he offered a response in his first statement to the public in months.“Over the course of my life I have come to realize that none of us are immune from our share of shortcomings and human frailties," Jackson said in the statement released by the attorneys representing him in the federal probe. "Still I offer no excuses for my conduct and I fully accept my responsibility for the improper decisions and mistakes I have made," he said...NBCChicago reported last week that Jackson will plead guilty as part of his plea deal, and jail time would be in the hands of a federal judge who has not yet been assigned. Converting campaign contributions for personal use is strictly prohibited by federal law and opens Jackson up to “not more than 5 years” in prison. Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence for between 46 and 57 months plus fines, according to reports.
Among the items Jackson reportedly purchased for himself in violation of the law are more than $20,000 worth of Michael Jackson memorabilia, $10,000 in Bruce Lee paraphernalia, as well as "fur coats and capes." His wife, an ex-Chicago alderman, has also been charged with falsifying tax records and underreporting her income. Despite making zero public appearances for months and rampant rumors of major legal trouble on the horizon, Jackson easily won re-election in his heavily Democratic district, carrying 63 percent of the vote. He resigned from the House of Representatives within weeks of securing another term, following in the footsteps of Mel Reynolds, his Democratic predecessor in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District -- who resigned in 1995 after being convicted of statutory rape. Jackson was a co-chair of Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.
Having lived in Chicago for nearly seven years, I'm always mystified by the number of Illinois politicians who are ensnared in criminal or corruption scandals. Four of the last seven Illinois governors have gone to prison, and yet these people just keep on stealing, idiotically assuming they'll get away with it. It's the Chicago way.