February 17, 2013

Politico: Jesse Jackson Jr. and His Wife ‘Lost Track of the Line Between Campaign Cash and Personal Funds’

Update, Feb. 19: Rush Limbaugh linked to the NewsBusters version of this post on Monday.

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In anticipation of Jesse Jackson Jr.’s indictment on Friday afternoon, Jonathan Allen and John Bresnahan at the Politico seemed all too willing to hand out sympathy cards to Jackson and his wife, both of whom stand to do time in prison for offenses relating to their raid of the congressman’s campaign funds.

Specifically, the Politico pair wrote: “It’s a story of a Chicago power couple that lost track of the line between campaign cash and personal funds in a spiral of money troubles.” Gosh, I didn’t know that line was so blurred. Excerpts from the write-up follow the jump:

Jesse Jackson Jr. to plead guilty to federal charges

Former Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) will plead guilty to conspiring with his wife to illegally spend $750,000 in campaign funds on personal expenses, including a $43,000 Rolex watch, fur coats and memorabilia associated with Michael Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Bruce Lee, according to information obtained by POLITICO.

The charges against him include conspiracy, making false statements, and mail and wire fraud.

Prosecutors will recommend a prison sentence of between 46 months and 57 months for Jackson Jr., as well as a fine of $10,000 to $100,000, and forfeiture of a yet-to-be-determined portion of the misspent $750,000 in campaign funds.

Jackson’s wife, former Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, has also pled guilty to one count of filing false joint tax returns, according to court documents. She faces up to three years in prison and a $100,000 fine. At different times, Sandi Jackson served as her husband’s campaign manager and campaign treasurer. Both Jacksons resigned from office amid the Justice Department’s investigation into their finances. The couple has two children.

Jackson, Jr., issued a statement through his attorneys on Friday afternoon apologizing for his actions.

The allegations against the Jacksons represent a breathtaking scheme to re-appropriate donors’ money to finance trips and luxuries, pay bills and even send the couple’s children to school. Unlike many scandals that have ensnared elected officials, this brazen tale of personal enrichment doesn’t involve public money.

It’s a story of a Chicago power couple that lost track of the line between campaign cash and personal funds in a spiral of money troubles. The government will allege the Jacksons lied on campaign finance and House financial disclosure forms to cover up the fact that they were using campaign money to build a lifestyle way beyond their means.

Gee, who knew that you can’t use campaign cash send your kids to nice (presumably non-public) schools? (/sarc)

Jackson also got unjustified sympathy from two other quarters.

At the Associated Press, an unbylined story about an interview with Democratic Illinois Congressman Danny Davis opened as follows: “U.S. Rep. Danny Davis said it appears that former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. ‘got carried away’ trying to acquire political power.” That’s funny, because another AP report by Sara Burnett has this headline: “Jackson Jr.’s Downfall Tied to Objects, Not Power.”

At the Chicago Tribune, Chicago alderman Joe Moore pulled out a violin:

But Moore said he doesn’t believe the Jacksons got into politics with the intent of living grandly.

“I think you can enter public service with the altruistic desire to make a difference and to help people and then somewhere along the way you lose your bearings,” he said. “I think when you choose public service as a profession, you have to accept the fact that you can’t live the same kind of lavish lifestyle as some of your friends and your supporters. Some folks are able to handle that better than others.”

Except for the fact that an awful lot of career politicians manage to become millionaires for no discernible reason.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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