Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) is reportedly pursuing a plea deal to end his legal troubles with the federal government and, in doing so, end his tenure as a United States Representative.
According to CBS Chicago, Jackson’s attorney is working out a deal with federal investigators to settle an inquiry into Jackson’s alleged misuse of campaign funds. As part of the deal, Jackson would resign from Congress by the end of the year and possibly serve some jail time.
The deal is far from a sure thing. The mere existence of a plea deal was kept secret until shortly after the 2012 election, prompting Jackson’s challengers to contend that the congressman had “cheated” voters by not revealing the possibility of a deal until after he was certain he’d held his seat.
Other stipulations of the reported plea deal include Jackson admitting to financial improprieties and repaying any money used for personal purposes. Jackson has not been charged with a crime, but federal investigators are looking into accusations that the congressman used campaign funds to furnish his home and buy a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend.
Jackson disappeared from Congress and quietly went on medical leave in June, leading to rampant speculation about where he’d gone and why. Rumors of depression, drug abuse, alcoholism and scandal echoed in the media as those close to Jackson refused to hint at the congressman’s whereabouts. Finally, Jackson’s wife revealed her husband was being treated for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic.
Despite being in treatment and showing no real campaign presence back in Chicago, Jackson comfortably won reelection this year. He has represented Illinois’ 2nd congressional district for seventeen years.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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