Feds believe Jesse Jackson Jr. got tip about probe into his finances
BY NATASHA KORECKI Political Reporter Twitter: @natashakorecki November 27, 2012 7:22PM
U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). File photo
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Federal authorities believe Jesse Jackson Jr. was tipped off to the federal investigation that ultimately contributed to the demise of his once-promising career.
Sources with knowledge of the probe told the Chicago Sun-Times that investigators believe Jackson had learned of the federal scrutiny of his financial activity prior to his June 10 leave from Congress.
The sources said it didn’t necessarily mean the tip was from an investigative source, saying it was possible the congressman received a tip from someone who was notified about the probe, possibly through a subpoena.
While Jackson, a South Shore Democrat, eventually released information concerning his health, he did not publicly disclose he had knowledge of the federal probe until last Wednesday — the day he submitted a resignation letter to U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.
Though he took a leave from his post on June 10, Jackson did not reveal his absence from Congress for two weeks. Then, just before a filing deadline for possible opponents in the Nov. 6 election, his office issued a three-sentence release saying he had been absent because he suffered from exhaustion.
Jackson did not disclose his whereabouts until the Sun-Times reported earlier this year that he was admitted to Mayo Clinic.
The clinic later released a statement on behalf of the family, indicating that he suffered from bipolar depression.
“During this journey I have made my share of mistakes. I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone,” Jackson wrote in his letter.
“None of us is immune from our share of shortcomings or human frailties and I pray that I will be remembered for what I did right. It has been a profound honor to serve the constituents of Illinois’s Second Congressional District.”
The Sun-Times first revealed in October that Jackson was under federal scrutiny in a financial probe unrelated to the Rod Blagojevich scandal.
Information has previously surfaced suggesting that Jackson had knowledge about a federal probe before it was made public. That happened in 2008, when then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich was under investigation. Secret recordings indicate that Blagojevich believed Jackson promised — through emissaries — $1.5 million in campaign contributions if Blagojevich appointed Jackson to Barack Obama’s newly vacated U.S. Senate seat.
While the probe into the Senate seat was still secret, Jackson allegedly called a donor and friend, Raghuveer Nayak. Nayak told authorities that after Jackson directed him to make a money offer for the Senate seat to Blagojevich.
Then, weeks later, Nayak told authorities that he later received a subsequent communication from Jackson. Nayak said Jackson called to warn him off of making a pay-to-play offer with Blagojevich because there was a federal investigation into the U.S. Senate seat selection. A second person, Rajinder Bedi, told authorities that back in November 2008, Nayak called him to relay his conversation with Jackson about an ongoing probe, the Sun-Times has reported.
The statement to authorities suggested that Jackson learned of an investigation even as he was a possible target of scrutiny for the government.
On Tuesday, Jackson’s attorney Dan Webb, could not be reached for comment.
Federal authorities as recently as two weeks ago where still examining Jackson’s finances — a review that has included activity involving Jackson’s wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th). Broad, sweeping subpoenas were issued in the Jackson investigation, including to financial institutions that controlled Jackson accounts both in and out of Washington, D.C., the source said.
The Sun-Times also first reported that Jackson was attempting to negotiate a plea deal. Jackson’s attorneys — which includes Reid Weingarten in Washington D.C. and Webb in Chicago — last week for the first time publicly confirmed that he was cooperating with authorities and attempting to find a resolution, something that could take months.