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Jesse Jackson Jr. denies Rod Blagojevich trial claims: ‘I roll with the punches’



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Updated: June 18, 2011 12:28AM

U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. on Monday flatly denied that he directed fundraisers to funnel $1.5 million in campaign contributions to Rod Blagojevich if Blagojevich agreed to name Jackson to fill the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

Jackson (D-Ill.) offered his public comment on the damaging trial testimony after attending inauguration ceremonies at Millennium Park for Mayor Emanuel and the new City Council.

“I’ve committed and participated in no such scheme. It’s been a thorough investigation. And I think the investigation has revealed that,” Jackson said.

So, the Indian businessmen made the offer to the Blagojevich camp on their own?

“Absolutely,” Jackson said.

Why would they?

“I have no idea. You’ll have to ask them,” the congressman said.

Last week, fund-raiser and onetime state worker Rajinder Bedi testified at Blagojevich’s re-trial that he met with Jackson and another fund-raiser, Raghu Nayak, on Oct. 28, 2008 for a breakfast meeting.

Bedi, a government witness, testified that fund-raising and the Senate seat were discussed at the meeting with Jackson. Hours later, Bedi met with the Blagojevich camp and offered $1 million in exchange for Jackson’s appointment.

A federal prosecutor is on record saying that according to Bedi, Nayak told Jackson in Bedi’s presence that Nayak would give Blagojevich $1 million if he appointed Jackson.

After Blagojevich’s arrest, Nayak told authorities that Jackson told him to make a campaign cash offer to Blagojevich in exchange for Jackson’s appointment, the Chicago Sun-Times has reported. Nayak also revealed that Jackson directed him to fly a “social acquaintance,” for him from Washington D.C. to Chicago. Investigators also interviewed that woman.

On Monday, Jackson said he is “very confident 3.5 years later” that he has nothing to worry about and no legal troubles of his own.

Asked whether the entire controversy has been an embarrassment to him and his family, Jackson said,

“I’ve had brighter days and glory days. But there are ups and downs in public life. I roll with the punches.”

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