Ah, Chicago politics! The great swamp that has invaded Washington! Today, it’s being reported that former Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is facing jail time over misuse of election funds.
Jesse Jackson Jr. is facing “significant jail time” in his pending plea deal over a Justice Department investigation of the misuse of his federal campaign fund, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.
Apparently, Jackson was using those funds to purchase things like a $40,000 Rolex. Jackson resigned last November in the midst of that investigation.
Converting contributions made to federal election campaigns to personal use is strictly prohibited by 2 U.S.C. §439a of the Federal Elections Campaign Act. Buying a Rolex violates that provision, as does spending contributions on a candidate’s other personal expenses such as mortgage payments, clothing, automobiles, vacations, tuition, tickets for sporting events, and health clubs. A knowing and intentional violation of this ban “aggregating $25,000 or more during a calendar year” opens up the violator to fines and imprisonment “for not more than 5 years, or both” under 2 U.S.C. §437g(d).
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) didn’t have many of these cases when I served as a commissioner, presumably because Members of Congress know this rule very well, but this is considered one of the worst violations of federal campaign finance law.
If Jackson really used donations and contributions to his congressional campaign fund to pay personal expenses, the consequences would be serious. His wife, Sandi Jackson, may also be in legal jeopardy. The Justice Department has apparently opened up a separate investigation on her because she was paid “nearly $5,000 a month from her husband’s campaign fund through her consulting firm.” The payments continued “even after Jesse Jackson Jr., checked into a mental health facility last year and—except for a robo-call—did not campaign for the Nov. 6. election, which he won.”
Don’t expect things in Jackson’s old district to get better. There’s already a convicted child molester running to fill his seat.