CBS 2 Chicago is reporting that a plea deal between federal prosecutors and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. is near completion and would include Jackson’s resignation from Congress.
The plea deal would end Jackson’s 17-year career as a congressman representing Chicago’s South Side and suburbs.
At the center of negotiations is white-collar criminal defense attorney Dan Webb, who served as Chicago’s top federal prosecutor in the 1980s, when several Cook County judges were indicted for public corruption under the “Operation Greylord” investigation.
Webb, the chairman of Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, has been the point person for Jackson in talks with the U.S. Justice Department in Washington.
The tentative deal includes:
–Jackson resigning for health reasons.
–His pleading guilty to charges involving misuse of campaign funds.
–The congressman’s repayment of any contributions that were converted to personal use, such as home furnishings, improper travel or gifts.
At least some jail time would appear to be inevitable for Jackson, the son of civil-rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and spouse of Chicago 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson.
Webb was also involved in the high-profile political plea deal for the late Dan Rostenkowski, who pleaded guilty to converting a congressional postage allowance into cash for himself. Rostenkowski got 17 months in jail but kept his $126,000-a-year pension for the rest of his life.
The onetime chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee died two years ago.
Jackson’s pension for 17 years in Congress would be between 65,000 and $80,000 a year, plus health benefits. But he’s only 47 and won’t be eligible for pension payouts until 62.
Jackson’s pension is also part of the current negotiations.
Jackson easily won re-election despite being readmitted to the Mayo clinic to continue treatment for bi-polar disorder. There have been persistent reports from those who have seen the congressman that it was unlikely that his health would allow him to return to congress anyway. Jackson took a leave of absence from the House last June.
In a spot of irony, if Jackson is forced to resign, a special election will be called by Governor Quinn to replace him. It was 17 years ago in 1995 that Jackson won a special election called to replace disgraced Congressman Mel Reynolds, who had been convicted of sexually assaulting a 16 year old campaign worker.