Paper: Jesse Jackson Jr. Scandal Expanding

Posted: Sep 21, 2010 5:47 PM
This is not the sort of story already-smarting Illinois Democrats hoped to see in today's Chicago Sun-Times:

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.

The allegation by Oak Brook businessman Raghuveer Nayak counters public statements made as recently as last week by Jackson that he never authorized any deal to attempt to buy the Senate seat.

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.

Jackson repeatedly has denied any wrongdoing, including making any offers to Blagojevich in exchange for the Senate-seat appointment.

Nayak, however, has told investigators a different story.

Before he dined with Huidobro and Jackson on Oct. 8, 2008, 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.

This story has it all: Sordid pay-to-play allegations, salacious innuendo about a sexual affair, Barack Obama's old senate seat, lies, a possible cover-up, and, of course, Rod Blagojevich.  This has the potential of being manna from heaven for the Illinois GOP, including Jackson's opponent Rev. Isaac Hayes.

Good luck with that Mayoral run, Jesse!