Chicago Sun-Times
Inside the Rod Blagojevich investigation and related cases

EXCLUSIVE: Jesse Jackson Jr. subject of House ethics inquiry

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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 received by parties in the case. The committee launched the action Thursday -- the same day
Blagojevich was indicted on corruption charges.
The panel has asked parties in the Blagojevich case -- including his former
gubernatorial staff and campaign staff -- to turn over any documents, emails,
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
congressman Jackson's Senate candidacy took place at the function.
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.
A federal criminal complaint alleges that the ex-governor told his brother
in a recorded call to meet with Nayak, referred to as "Individual D," to ask
about giving money up front for Jackson's appointment. The next day the
ex-governor told his own brother to "undo that [Nayak] thing" after reports
surfaced that the feds could be recording conversations, according to the
criminal complaint against Blagojevich.
Nayak has since been in discussions with federal investigators.
The ethics panel typically investigates a matter for 30 days before making a
recommendation to the House members' chief ethics panel, the Committee on
Standards of Official Conduct. That committee can take action, refuse
action or continue the probe.
Leo Wise, who heads the Office of Congressional Ethics, said he could not
confirm or deny the existence of any investigation. His non-partisan panel,
made up of private citizens, was created by the House last year to review
allegations against its members. Judge Abner Mikva is among those on the
panel.
"We're a fact-gathering, investigative entity," Wise said. Wise explained
that the panel does not have subpoena abilities but the House dictated
powers allowing it to interview witnesses and request documents.
A spokesman for congressman Jackson did not return a call seeking comment.
Jonathan Jackson also did not respond to a request for comment.
Jackson is the second member of the Illinois delegation to come under ethical scrutiny this year. In February, the Senate ethics committee launched an inquiry into U.S. Senator Roland Burris' rise to the appointment by Blagojevich. Burris (D-Ill) has given conflicting answers about his contacts with the former governor and his campaign team prior to the appointment. The inquiry into Burris was launched after the Sun-Times revealed inconsistencies in sworn statements he made before an Illinois House impeachment panel.

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This page contains a single entry by Natasha Korecki published on April 7, 2009 4:00 PM.

Feds question congressman Jackson about Obama's seat was the previous entry in this blog.

BLAGO, CELLINI, OTHERS TO BE IN COURT TUESDAY is the next entry in this blog.

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