Jesse Jackson Jr. is the former Democratic Party congressional representative from the second district of Illinois. According to a Feb. 20 Chicago Sun Times article, he pleaded guilty to felony charges that he conspired to spend $750,000 in campaign money on personal items. He broke down several times in court and made the following statement,
“For years I lived off my campaign. I used money that should have been for campaign purposes for personal purposes,” He also said, “Tell everybody I’m sorry I let them down,”
According to a Feb. 20 NPR article, "Attorneys familiar with public corruption investigations said the amount of campaign cash allegedly converted to personal use in this case is the largest of any that they can remember."
He will face a scheduled sentencing hearing on June 28, according to a live CNN broadcast on Feb. 20.
Jackson made his plea in a federal courtroom in Washington, D.C. The court was presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert L. Wilkins. Many members of Jackson's family was present, including his wife, the former Alderman Sandi Jackson, his father, the Reverend Jesse Jackson and his mother, Jacqueline.
Sandi Jackson is also under independent investigation as a co-conspirator. Authorities charged her and her court case is pending.
A 4 p.m. CST time news conference has been scheduled by officials representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the FBI and the IRS. The officials intend to discuss the case.
Jackson was a highly popular congressional representative who maintained his seat for 17 years. His wife, Sandi Jackson was elected twice to serve as council member in Chicago’s seventh ward. Authorities charged Jackson with "massive" spending from Jackson's campaign accounts. The crimes included using the funds to finance mink capes and fur coats, a $43,000 Rolex watch, expensive schools and furniture for their children and a collection of expensive memorabilia including a Michael Jackson fedora, items from Bruce Lee and other celebrity items.
He took a strange and shocking absence from congress last June. Afterward, he claimed to be suffering from bipolar depression. By October 2012, he was under investigation for the campaign spending case. He retained his congressional seat after the November 6 elections, but resigned weeks later, finally admitting that he was under federal scrutiny.
Three of Illinois' top Democrats are vying to replace Jackson, according to a 20 Feb. Chicago Tribune article. They are Debbie Halvorson, Robin Kelly and Anthony Beale. They will compete in a special election on Tuesday, February 26.