Saturday, February 16, 2013

Jesse Jackson, Jr. update

On November 21st, Jesse Jackson walked away from his duties as a Congressman serving the 2nd Congressional District of Illinois. As I noted at the time, he was already on an extended leave of absence for "health reasons" and was pretty much a non-entity in DC for the majority of 2012.

The reason cited for his quitting was health of course, but it had become common knowledge that the criminal probe into Jackson's activities was going to bear fruit...and charges. What Jackson said at the time:
For 17 years I have given 100% of my time, energy, and life to public service," Jackson wrote. "However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most to the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible.
We couldn't really fault him for his deception then, as the magnitude of his offenses was unknown. But that's no longer the case:
Jackson Jr. is accused of diverting $750,000 in campaign funds for personal use.

Federal authorities allege that Jackson Jr. used campaign funds to purchase a $43,350 men’s gold-plated Rolex watch, $5,150 worth of fur capes and parkas, and $9,588 in children’s furniture. The purchases were made between 2007 and 2009, according to the criminal information, which authorities noted is not evidence of guilt.

Other expenditures listed by prosecutors include $10,105 on Bruce Lee memorabilia, $11,130 on Martin Luther King memorabilia and $22,700 on Michael Jackson items, including $4,600 for a "Michael Jackson fedora."
And note that this is only the stuff investigators believe they can prove, stuff that's limited in scope to only three years. As Jackson noted, he's been at this for 17 years, though obviously the "public service" he was giving all of his time and energy to included serving his own needs and desires. There's also sufficient evidence to charge Jackson--and his wife--with tax fraud for six years, 2006 through 2011. What about 1995 through 2005? That's eleven more years likely filled with the same sorts of activity (smoke, fire, and all that). There's no reason to assume otherwise, given the dollar figures involved.

Jackson's attorney says his client has "accepted responsibility for his actions," but has he really? Did he offer up any other transgressions that have not yet been discovered? No, of course not. Then there's the issue of his infidelity. The CNN story notes the problems that surfaced in this regard for Jackson a couple of years ago:
Once considered a potential candidate for mayor of Chicago, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s reputation has taken a hit in recent years because of the Blagojevich scandal and also because of news reports in 2010 that a suburban Chicago businessman told federal investigators he twice paid to fly a woman — a hostess from a Washington, D.C. bar — to Chicago at Jackson’s request.
As a Congressman, Jackson is not allowed to solicit gifts that represent "personal benefits." Did Jackson acknowledge that he broke this rule? No, he actually tried to argue his way out of this obvious ethics violation:
The woman's travel was "not a personal benefit to me, I don’t believe, under the House rules. A benefit to the person for whom he bought the ticket. He didn't buy tickets for me. Did I direct him? I did."
Having someone flown in for a booty call strikes me as the very definition of a "personal benefit." But hey, as I noted previously, Jackson has--or maybe had--that entitled mindset, wherein he can do no wrong, where the world is literally his oyster. Swines and pearls come to mind.

Given all this, can we finally put to bed the silly notion that Jesse Jackson, Jr. is some sort of tragic figure? Last year, after he stepped down, this idea was rampant in the mainstream media as I detailed. Surely everyone has abandoned it--the idea of Jackson being some sort of tragic figure--now, right? Nope.

David Axelrod's tweet:
The crash of Jesse Jackson Jr. Is a tragic end to a career that once seemed to have no limit. Very sad for him, his family & constituents.
The rise and hard fall of Jesse Jackson Jr.:
The months-long drama surrounding former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has moved into its final act. While the nation ponders the State of the Union address delivered by one Chicago politician who rose to become the 44th president, another of the city’s former rising political stars is facing potential prison time. The contrast is stark, compelling — and tragic.
With Plea Deal, Jesse Jackson Jr.’s Fall From Grace Seems Complete:
For the scion of what was once the country’s most influential African-American family, the plea deal represents a precipitous fall from grace that overlaps with the ascent of another African-American Chicago family to the White House. The Jackson dynasty appears to be done.  
 “There was a time when Jesse Jackson Jr. saw himself as the first African American president and now he’s probably on his way to jail,” says Andy Shaw of the Better Government Association—a Chicago-based good-government group. “This is a major fall from grace—and a family tragedy.
See, what these people are missing is that there is no reason to credit Jackson for anything. It's not a tragedy because Jackson was never a hero. Far from it. He is now what he has always been: an entitled son of a powerful politician who used his father's influence to gain and retain power. He's the poster child for everything that is wrong with politics. Jackson deserves to be treated for exactly what he is: a criminal. Nothing more, nothing less.

Cheers, all.

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