Even as the congressman reportedly negotiates a plea deal on allegations that he misused campaign funds, his African-American base remains steadfastly loyal. Allison Samuels explains why.
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., is seen during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington on October 16, 2011. A spokesman at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota said on Nov. 13, 2012, Jackson has left the clinic, where he was being treated for bipolar disorder for the second time since taking a leave of absence in June. (Charles Dharapak, File / AP Photo )
As many wait to see whether Jesse Jackson Jr. will agree to a plea deal in the investigation of allegations that he misused campaign funds--and as Jackson himself reportedly awaits news on whether he'll get disability pay if he indeed does resign--an even larger question looms for the voters of Jackson's 2nd congressional district in Illinois.
Where do they go from here? Jackson was elected to his 10th term in Congress last week, even as he struggled with health issues and an ongoing ethics investigation. Though he didn't campaign for reelection as he was receiving treatment at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and depression, his loyal base of supporters voted the embattled congressman back into office again with seemingly little reservation.
"I like him, that's why I voted for him again," says Delores Washington, who lives in Jackson's district in Chicago. "We all have issues and we all have to fight some demons in our life one way or another. Who am I to judge?"
Apparently that was the prevailing sentiment among many African Americans as they cast their votes on Nov. 6. Washington and others say that the son of civil-rights icon Jesse Jackson Sr. served them well over his many years in Congress, and for that they owe him a great debt.
But at what cost, ask some? Quietly, other African Americans in Jackson's district are questioning the wisdom of voting for someone so deeply embroiled in the unknown. They say they sympathize with Jackson's plight and question the validity of the allegations against him, but they are concerned that he isn't able to lead anyone anywhere at this point.
"We are a loyal people, that's for sure," says 51-year Moses Davis, a native of Chicago. "Almost to a fault. We know the history of mistreatment in this country when it comes to African Americans, and that sometimes overshadows us really looking to see the truth in what's going on."
Just this summer, Jackson took a leave of absence for exhaustion, and it was later revealed that he'd been suffering from bipolar disorder for years. Sources say months before he took the leave, Jackson also met with federal agents in hopes of working out a plea deal on allegations that he used $20,000 in campaign funds to redecorate his home in Chicago. That home is currently on sale for $2.5 million. Jackson is also being questioned as to how he obtained the $40,000 he allegedly used to buy a female friend a Rolex watch. Jackson could face jail time, depending on terms of the plea deal.
Source: The Daily Beast | Allison Samuels