Democratic Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr., found himself under intense media scrutiny after it was revealed that he was indeed “Candidate 5,” a designation given to identify him Tuesday in court documents charging Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich with corruption. Federal authorities said Wednesday, December 10, that Jackson was the candidate mentioned who was further described as standing the most to gain from Blagojevich’s attempted sale of the vacated U.S. Senate seat of President-Elect Barack Obama.
Jackson had previously told ABC News that he did not know if he was Candidate 5. He did say that prosecutors had assured him that he was not a direct target of criminal inquiry in the investigation.
However, in the legal complaint filed against Governor Blagojevich and his chief of staff, John Harris, Candidate 5 is the only candidate in the six mentioned that prosecutors believe may have engaged in some type of wrongdoing via an emissary. The emissary was not named.
Jackson told ABC News that he had met with Blagojevich earlier this week. He said it was the first time he had spoken with Governor Blagojevich in four years.
Chicago federal prosecutors, who refuse to talk about the case, produced evidence from a wiretap recorded on October 31 of Blagojevich: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him [Senate Candidate 5] a senator.”
According to Jesse Jackson, Jr., he did not use an emissary to approach Blagojevich. “It is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo or any payments or offers. An impossibility to an absolute certainty.”
Jesse Jackson, Jr. has openly stated that he wanted President-Elect Obama’s old Senate seat. Federal prosecutors have yet to indicate whether or not “Candidate 5” will be questioned further or whether or not he will be investigated and/or charged.
What is clear is that Jesse Jackson, Jr., now has a problem. Being identified as Candidate 5 casts a shadow over his otherwise good political name. Even the slightest hint of impropriety, of attempting to negotiate a deal for the vacant U.S. Senate seat, restricts his candidacy.
Jackson has also added his name to those who have publicly stated that Governor Blagojevich should resign.
The question must be asked: Since everyone involved in Illinois politics has known that Governor Rod Blagojevich has been investigated and has been part of an ongoing investigation – all of which reaches back to 2003 – into his political affairs, what does it say about anyone who would enter into any kind of questionable deal, no matter how marginal, with him?