The [Monday] Papers
When the Democrats in U.S. House gained a majority in 2006, Jesse Jackson Jr., who had a seat on the Appropriations Committee, made the unlikely claim that "[Now] I'm Dan Rostenkowski."
It turns out he may have been right, though.
Among the charges lodged against Rosty: "[M]isusing his office's expense accounts to charge Congress for $40,000 in furniture and fine china and crystal."
The Sun-Times broke the story and reported this potentially key nugget: "The probe was active in the weeks prior to Jackson taking a leave from his U.S. House seat on June 10."
I'm sorry to say I never got a whiff of this while reporting "Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Dark Days."
There were widespread rumors that he took his medical leave to avoid an indictment, but everyone assumed that would have been related to the allegation that he offered to raise millions of dollars for Rod Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to Barack Obama's old U.S. Senate seat.
I did hear tales, though, of Junior's taste for the finer things in life - of how he always had to have the best version of whatever he purchased.
Even as alderman, Sandi continued to draw a paycheck from her husband's campaign fund. (She has made at least $275,000 since she took the seat in 2007 and nearly $450,000 since 2002.) The couple received a ruling from the Federal Election Commission saying that the practice was legal. But that didn't mean it didn't smell fishy. Critics accused Jackson of converting campaign contributions to personal income. It didn't seem to bother him.
All of which doesn't mean he isn't really sick, but perhaps more likely that a visit from federal agents last spring pushed him over the edge. But that's just speculation.
"Frank Watkins, Jackson's congressional spokesman, said he was unaware of any investigation, had no comment and had no immediate way to reach the congressman," the Sun-Times reports in a follow-up story.
"I don't even have a number for him," Watkins said Friday. "He usually calls me."
Jackson's congressional spokesman - and longtime friend and adviser - doesn't have a number for him? FOIA those phone records!
We Have QT!
We should have a permanent location in place by Tuesday for readers who would like to bookmark it. A few other elements to come.
Red Flag Violation
"Lawyers for Redflex Traffic Systems Inc. said the firm disciplined the executive vice president involved and sent him to 'anti-bribery' training after the incident, but did not report the violation to the Chicago Board of Ethics until this month, after the newspaper's inquiries."
Anti-bribery training? Isn't that called kindergarten?
"The company also acknowledged to the newspaper it did not disclose internal allegations about ties between the city official and a Redflex contractor who received more than $570,000 in commissions - $1,500 for each of the 384 cameras the company installed in Chicago.
"The company said an exhaustive probe by an outside law firm found no evidence of an inappropriate relationship, although neither man was questioned in the probe."
Defining exhaustive down.
"The disclosures add to a growing list of questions about Redflex, including its relationship with John Bills, the man at City Hall who oversaw the company's biggest U.S. contract from its beginning in 2003. The Tribune previously disclosed that after retiring from the city last year, Bills went to work as a consultant for the Redflex-funded Traffic Safety Coalition.
"That group, run by a political ally of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, backed the mayor's successful push to expand the city's camera program to target speeders."
"The stakes are huge - the business could be worth tens of millions of dollars to vendors, and the city has already reaped more than $300 million in camera fines since 2003. Emanuel is counting on up to $30 million in revenue next year from the new speed cameras, which the city hopes to begin testing late this year."
And just to think, it's all for the children.
In A Nutshell
And I am outta here! Good night, everyone!
Subhead: Worked For Roland Burris.
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The Weekend In Chicago Rock
The Beachwood Tip Line: Defining tips down.
Posted on October 15, 2012
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