Jesse Jackson Jr. betrayed his devoted black constituents, stuffed his pockets with campaign cash, and now, as a result of his greed and arrogance, his fate rests in the hands of a federal judge.
The former congressman from Illinois, the son of icon Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., could spend several years in prison for repeated theft.
Jackson Jr. wiped tears from his eyes and his wife, Sandra, cried as they both pleaded guilty Wednesday to spending $750,000 on lavish and unusual gifts for themselves, including $7,000 for two mounted Elk heads.
“Sir, for years I lived off my campaign,” Jackson Jr. told U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins inside a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C. “I used money I shouldn’t have used for personal purposes.”
“I am guilty, your honor,” Jackson Jr. said. “I accept responsibility.”
Jackson Jr. is guilty of absolute fraud. He was living in luxury, far above his means and suddenly it all came crashing down around him. Every black citizen in Chicago who gave Jackson Jr. one dollar or one hundred dollars should be outraged and angry at Jackson Jr. who enriched himself on the backs of loyal donors, many of whom are seniors and single mothers struggling to make ends meet.
Family and friends say Jackson Jr. is remorseful and pleaded guilty because he feels bad about his larcenous behavior. But is Jesse Jr. apologetic for stealing campaign funds to support his extravagant lifestyle?
Or is Jackson Jr. apologetic only because he got caught?
For anyone wondering how serious Jackson Jr. is taking this case, consider this: He has asked Judy Smith, the famed Washington, D.C. crisis manager, to help handle this high-profile legal situation. “Scandal,” the hit television show on ABC, is based on Smith’s shadowy character played by actress Kerry Washington.
But this isn’t Hollywood — this is real life and Jackson Jr. is in real trouble. Jackson Jr. could face up to five years in prison and Judge Wilkins set sentencing for June 28.
It’s a sad fall from grace for Jackson Jr. who was once considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, a young charismatic politician who aspired to become mayor of Chicago – and possibly President of the United States.
Jackson Jr. and Sandra Jackson were considered a power couple in Washington and Chicago and were revered like royalty in some black social and political circles. But today, the Jacksons are both unemployed and Jackson Jr. could also lose his congressional pension. One television commentator suggested that the Jacksons should seriously consider a reality show to generate income.
But the burning question folks from D.C. to Chicago are asking, however, is whether Jackson Jr. will be ordered to jail.