Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., has entered negotiations for a plea deal that would include his resignation from Congress and likely jail time, according to CBS Chicago.
Jackson, Jr., the son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and husband to Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, has not yet pleaded guilty to alleged misuse of campaign funds to decorate his house and purchase a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. But the TV station reports that the 17-term congressman’s lawyer, white-collar criminal defense attorney Dan Webb, is negotiating with the federal government a plea bargain that will likely be reached by year’s end.
The tentative deal includes Jackson, Jr.’s resignation from Congress for health reasons, a “guilty” plea involving misuse of campaign funds, and repayment of any contributions that were converted to personal use. At least some jail time is expected.
“No one has pled guilty, but plea discussions are ongoing,” a source told the Sun-Times’ Michael Sneed.
Jackson, Jr.’s pension, which would pay out between $65,000 and $80,000 a year when he turns 62, is also part of the talks.
Webb, who served as Chicago’s top federal prosecutor during the 1980s, helped strike a plea deal for the late Rep. Dan Rostenkowski, D-Ill. The former House Ways and Means Committee chairman received 17 months in jail after pleading guilty to converting a congressional postage allowance into personal money, but was allowed to keep his $126,000-a-year pension for the rest of his life.
Jackson, Jr. has been on medical leave of absence since June for treatment of bipolar depression. He has been back and forth between Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic and his Washington, D.C. home.
Jackson, Jr. was easily re-elected last week, collecting 63 percent of the vote in the 2nd Congressional District. The younger Jackson was first elected to Congress in 1995.