Ethics Board Launches Probe Into Rep Jesse Jackson Jr.

Natasha Korecki, Chicago Sun Times, April 7, 2009

A congressional ethics board has launched a preliminary inquiry into U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), related to President Obama’s vacant Senate seat and the corruption investigation of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.

The Office of Congressional Ethics, formed just last year, voted in late March to conduct a “preliminary review” of actions surrounding Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the Senate seat, according to documents released to parties involved in the probe. The revelation means Jackson is the second member of the Illinois delegation undergoing an ethical review related to the Blagojevich scandal. The U.S. Senate ethics committee is investigating U.S. Sen. Roland Burris.

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The panel has asked parties in the Blagojevich case–including his former gubernatorial staff and campaign staff–to turn over any documents, e-mails, or other correspondence involving Jackson Jr. and his campaign staff; Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, and political fund-raisers Raghuveer Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, lawyers close to the probe told the Sun-Times. The request for information is from June of last year through Dec. 31, 2008.

Nayak, Bedi and Jonathan Jackson attended a Dec. 6 fund-raiser hosted by the Indian community for Friends of Blagojevich. People attending the event have told the Sun-Times that discussions about future fund-raising for Rep. Jackson’s Senate candidacy took place at the function. The ex-governor was arrested three days later on accusations that he tried to sell the Senate seat appointment, among other charges.

Jesse Jackson Jr. has not been accused of wrongdoing in the Blagojevich case. He was referred to as “Candidate A” in the indictment of Blagojevich and was recently interviewed by the feds. Blagojevich believed he would be paid $1.5 million through Jackson Jr. “emissaries” if he named Jackson to the Senate seat, according to the federal charges.

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The Senate ethics committee launched an inquiry into Burris’ appointment by Blagojevich. Burris has given conflicting answers about his contacts with the former governor and his campaign operation before the appointment.

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