Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Career Wasn't Upended by a Push for Political Power but by a Desire for Material Things

4798 For all the talk of Jesse Jackson Jr. aspiring to be a U.S. senator or mayor of the nation's third-largest city, his career wasn't upended by attempts to amass political power.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., charged with misuse of campaign funds, and his wife, Sandra, charged with filing false tax returns, have agreed to plea deals. Photo: Peter Wynn Thompson, New York Times
Instead, it was the former congressman's desire for flashy items - a gold-plated Rolex watch, furs and collectibles, such as Eddie Van Halen's guitar.

In a state where stop-at-nothing political ambition has been well documented - and often rewarded - the seemingly frivolous cause of Jackson's undoing is seen by political observers and former colleagues as both nonsensical and sad.

"When you have a magic name like that, he was in position, waiting for the gun to go off, for mayor, the Senate ... he was playing with the big guys," said Paul Green, a political scientist at Roosevelt University in Chicago who moderated Jackson's first congressional campaign debate. "To go down for this, you just feel sad."

Federal prosecutors on Friday charged Jackson with one count of conspiracy for allegedly spending $750,000 in campaign money on personal expenses. The Chicago Democrat's wife, former alderman Sandra Jackson, was charged with one count of filing false joint federal income tax returns. Both agreed to plead guilty in deals with federal prosecutors. Their sentencing dates have not been set.

While former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich went to prison because he tried to trade President Obama's U.S. Senate seat for a more prestigious job or millions in campaign donations, Jackson could go to prison for, in part, buying memorabilia tied to martial arts movie star Bruce Lee.

The son of a civil rights icon, Jackson suddenly disappeared from public view for several weeks last summer. His staff eventually revealed he was being treated for bipolar disorder and other medical issues.

When Jackson resigned from office in November, he cited his bipolar disorder and acknowledged he also was under federal investigation.

Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., wondered whether the long list of luxury purchases mentioned in the federal criminal complaint were "an indication that his bipolar condition kind of was manifesting itself even then."

Source: The AP
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