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In this photograph taken by AP Images for The Hollywood Reporter George Stephanopoulos arrives The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful

In this photograph taken by AP Images for The Hollywood Reporter George Stephanopoulos arrives at The Hollywood Reporter 35 Most Powerful People in Media event on Wednesday, April 11, 2012 in New York. (Evan Agostini/AP Images for The Hollywood Reporter)

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Updated: March 11, 2013 6:50AM

The Jackson file . . .

It’s a story as old as time.

How culpable is a wife when a husband is the subject of a criminal investigation?

How culpable is a wife when her husband inks a deal pleading guilty to criminal charges while using mental illness as a defense?

The federal probes of former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson, over allegations of campaign fund misuse reads like a Greek tragedy — culminating in a criminal plea deal signed by Jackson last Friday — and the revelation of a separate probe involving his wife.

Sources close to Sandi claim she was stunned by campaign finance abuse allegations and bank accounts unbeknownst to her — and feels like she has been thrown under the bus by a husband who had been at times unfaithful, difficult, in need of psychiatric help — and now seemingly unable to protect her and their two children.

However, sources told Sun-Times reporter Natasha Korecki that Jackson told associates he tried “protecting” his wife during negotiations for the plea agreement, but “they wouldn’t let him.”

Although the couple live together in their Washington, D.C., house — and are devoted to their children — Jackson’s history of marital infidelity, erratic behavior, depression and federal scrutiny has resulted in a difficult, yet strangely supportive, relationship.

In the recent past, Sandi Jackson has stressed her determination to keep her marriage together and, Sneed is told, encouraged her husband to resign from office after “prayerful reflection,” sources say.

“The investigation against Jesse Jr. has been going on for years, but Sandi only hired an attorney sometime late last year,” said a Sneed source.

“There is no way she knew her husband spent $40,000 on a Rolex watch with campaign funds,” said a second source. “There apparently were also family accounts she only learned about while her husband was in the process of working out a plea deal with the feds,” the source added.

But sources also claim the federal scrutiny of Sandi Jackson includes access to and use of her husband’s congressional campaign money — including credit card charges — as well as the movement of money from one account to another.

Who knows how this will end up, but it is a tragic story nonetheless.
The Maltese bloggin’ . . .

Culprits, complexion and comestibles: Sneed recently caught up with Betty Loren-Maltese, the former Cicero town president who served 6½ years in prison on corruption charges, about her new blog . . . and her secret for beautiful skin.

◆ Top tip: Betty tells Sneed she coats her face with Vaseline before wiping it off with a warm towel and following that up with Olay moisturizer.

◆ To wit: At, you can read about Betty’s adventures in online dating, her reviews of local restaurants and — even though Betty has left Cicero for the greener pastures of Glen Ellyn — tons about the goings-on and political wheeler dealers in her old stomping grounds.
Sweet nothings . . .

Reality star and megatweeter Kristin Cavallari has Valentine’s Day plans with her sweetie/baby daddy Jay Cutler. No vow wow yet, but Kristin tells People magazine: “I’m just going to cook dinner. It’s going to be a very low-key, romantic evening, which — for being parents — sounds amazing to both of us,” she jokes. “[We’re looking forward to] being in bed early and getting a good night’s sleep!”

Just can’t seem to get enough of her Socratic reasoning.
Sneedlings . . .

B-day bulletin: Winnetka’s beloved artist Georgene Campion celebrated her 80th birthday Friday night, surrounded by family and friends at Indian Hill Country Club — under her nearly floor-to-ceiling portrait . . . I spy: Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts lunching at N9NE Steakhouse on Friday.

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