The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Jesse Jackson Jr. would pay-to-play in the U.S. Senate. Full story here.
The Sun-Times has learned that 2 members of Chicago’s Indian community sent word to Blagojevich’s camp that Jesse Jackson Jr. would raise $5 million in exchange for Obama’s Senate seat
Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s camp was told last year that U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) would raise up to $5 million in campaign cash for the ex-governor if he was appointed to President Obama’s U.S. Senate seat, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. denies allowing anyone to make pay-to-play offers for President Obama’s U.S. Senate seat to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich on his behalf.
Besides the $5 million to be raised by Jackson, the proposal also included another $1 million for Blagojevich’s campaign fund that would come from Indian donors, sources say.
This is the first revelation that a proposal for the Jackson appointment involved an alleged promise that he’d raise campaign cash for the ex-governor.
Also, the amount of money allegedly offered to Blagojevich is significantly higher than what’s been reported so far.
Sources did not disclose what role, if any, Jackson played in authorizing the offers to Blagojevich. Jackson has denied allowing anyone to make pay-to-play offers to the governor on his behalf. The congressman has been interviewed by authorities but has not been accused of wrongdoing.
The approaches to the Blagojevich camp happened in the final weeks of October — even before Obama vacated his seat, sources say.
Who were the middle men?
The first came from Rajinder Bedi, a state employee who acted as a conduit to the Indian community for Blagojevich, sources say. Bedi met with the governor’s brother, Robert, to tell him that a longtime fund-raiser and wealthy health care businessman, Raghuveer Nayak, would help organize fund-raising within the Indian community and that Jackson would raise money as well.
Then, at an Oct. 31 planning luncheon at the India House restaurant in Schaumburg, Nayak delivered a similar message to Robert Blagojevich, the Sun-Times has learned. Nayak allegedly identified himself to the Blagojevich camp as a representative of Jackson, sources say.
At some point, signals were crossed in communicating the dollar amounts, though, leaving Rod Blagojevich to believe, according to the criminal complaint against him, that he would be paid $1.5 million should he appoint Jackson to fill Obama’s seat.
But the offer was really supposed to be $5 million raised by Jackson, as well as up to $1 million from the Indian community, sources said.
Jackson was a vocal contender for the Senate seat appointment last year. But, he said after Rod Blagojevich’s Dec. 9 arrest, that he believed Blagojevich would choose an appointee based on qualifications — not money.
At the time, Jackson acknowledged speaking with Nayak about the Senate seat but said it didn’t involve anything illegal. “I pray for him and I am confident I didn’t ask him to do anything that is suggested in the complaint that would violate the law,” Jackson told the Sun-Times at the time.
What does Jesse Jr say?
Jackson last week acknowledged the Office of Congressional Ethics has launched an inquiry into him, but said he did nothing wrong and was fully cooperating.
But the government has someone on tape:
In a secret recording made by the government and dated Oct. 31 — the same day as the fund-raising planning luncheon in Schaumburg — Rod Blagojevich is overheard discussing his alleged approach by a Jackson emissary, according to the criminal complaint filed against Rod Blagojevich.
“We were approached ‘pay to play,’ ” the ex-governor says, “That, you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him [Jackson] a senator.”
In the government’s April 2 indictment of both the ex-governor and his brother, both men were charged with wire fraud stemming from a phone discussion they had on Nov. 1, 2008 — a day after the Schaumburg luncheon — about the alleged solicitation of campaign contributions involving Jackson and others.
The indictment also charges that, as part of Blagojevich’s scheme to sell the Senate seat, the ex-governor sought “substantial campaign fund-raising assistance from individuals seeking the United States senate seat and their backers, including Candidate A (Jackson), whose associate Rod Blagojevich understood to have offered $1.5 million in campaign contributions in return for . . . appointment of Senate Candidate A.”
Ouch. But then again he’s part of the CBC. So unless he goes to jail he will get re-elected. It’s not like they caught him doing crack in a hotel room with hookers. Or was caught with $90,000 in bribe money hidden in his freezer. Oh wait – those things did happen and the politicians involved were re-elected.