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The [Jacksons Are Going To Jail] Papers

"Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to 2 1/2 years behind bars for stealing $750,000 from his campaign fund while former Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) is to serve one year for filing false tax returns," the Sun-Times reports.

"Even in a state like Illinois, where governors, aldermen and congressmen have routinely gone to prison, the Wednesday hearing was remarkably rare as it involved a powerful couple who together saw their political demise in the same courtroom.

"'There's no exact parallel,' said Dick Simpson, a longtime political observer and former Chicago alderman. The closest parallel is Illinois having four of the last seven governors in prison, he said.

Let's take a look.

*

"Sandi Jackson, 49, appeared stunned by the imposition of a prison term, her face frozen and drained of color after the judge ordered a 12-month sentence that offers no ability to earn time off for good behavior," Natasha Korecki writes in the Sun-Times account.

Sandi apparently thought, like many of us, that she'd get off with probation - not because that would represent justice but because that seems to be the way these things go. But in the end, she got at least the low end of what she deserved. To wit:

"Assistant U.S. Attorney Matt Graves took exception to Sandi Jackson's argument for probation. Graves said considered independently of her husband, Sandi Jackson's case was one of the worst involving personal use of campaign funds that had 'ever been documented.'

"Among the items Sandi Jackson purchased with the funds were 'thousands of dollars at salons and spa treatments,' a Disney vacation and a subzero freezer for their Chicago home, he said. She spent tens upon tens of thousands of dollars using the credit card of her husband's congressional funds. She filed falsified reports to the Federal Election Commission and knowingly signed off on IRS tax forms she knew were inaccurate."

See, she didn't just sign off on tax forms that didn't fully report the family's income; she held that campaign fund credit card in her hand and knowingly cheated her husband's donors - and also cheating the public of the trust invested in the couple as elected officials. And for what?

"Graves noted the Jacksons' combined income in 2011 was nearly $350,000, putting the couple among the top 10 percent household incomes in the country and giving them no financial need to steal."

No financial need, but an emotional need to fulfill a sense of entitlement. There is no sympathy for Sandi Jackson in this corner today.

*

"My heart breaks every day with the pain this has caused my babies," Sandi told the judge before sentencing, reading from a statement. "I ask to be parent, provider and support system that my babies will require in the difficult months ahead."

The Jacksons' kids are 13 and 9.

I know some parents never stop referring to their children as their babies, but in this case even the judge chided the defense for laying on the mother line a bit thick.

*

At one point Sandi's lawyer, Dan Webb, invoked her tremendous service to the 7th Ward - prompting snickers from those of us back here in Chicago who knew her as the Absentee Alderman.

"Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said she found it galling that Sandi Jackson lived in Washington, D.C., sent her kids to school there while serving one of Chicago's most impoverished and crime-ridden wards and often arrived at City Hall rolling a suitcase behind her," Fran Spielman reports.

"She was in Washington probably more than she was in the city. People deserve better than that," Mitts said. "Our job is to serve our community 24/7. You can't do that when you're in Washington. It didn't make sense to me. I once asked another elected official about that. I was told my name wasn't Jackson. I wasn't as popular as they were. And I should mind my own business - that they can do it and get away with it. But that's not true. Everything that happens in the dark comes into the light."

And don't forget: Junior paid his wife a $5,000 monthly consulting fee out of his campaign fund, essentially adding $60,000 to the family's income for services hardly rendered.

*

Meanwhile, Junior's mental health issues got no play.

"Graves took a shot at Jackson Jr.'s reported bipolar disorder, saying when mental health issues are litigated in court, usually there is expert testimony, discovery and an examination of the defendant - and that none had occurred in the case," the Tribune reports.

"When one looks at the facts," Graves said, "it's quite clear that there's no there there."

If I'm not mistaken, a federal prosecutor just called Junior's bipolar diagnosis a charade. A federal prosecutor who has seen the medical evidence submitted to the court, skimpy as it is; reportedly a few letters from doctors more than actual health records.

And yet, Junior's attorney Reid Weingarten said in court that Jackson Jr. "suffers from a very, very serious mental health disease," according to the Trib. "He identified the former congressman's illness as bipolar disorder and said it was relevant even though 'we didn't plead guilty by reason of insanity.'"

Inferring that perhaps they could have.

Let me just say that Webb and Weingarten did not distinguish themselves Wednesday.

*

"Weingarten also tried to downplay Jackson Jr.'s actions since he took money from his own campaign fund. It's not as if there are widows and orphans outside the courthouse who are victims and asking for his head, Weingarten said."

That's only because said widows and orphans couldn't afford to travel to Washington for the hearing. They still want their money back - and Junior's head.

*

And it wasn't just Jackson's donors who were the victims here; we, the public, were also victimized. The Jacksons may not have stolen from us directly, but they defrauded the public nonetheless and broke the public trust. They also cost us all money indirectly - for the investigation and the cost of a new congressional election. Further, the 7th Ward now has an appointed alderman whom they did not elect and the 2nd Congressional District essentially didn't have representation for several years as Junior disappeared from public view to fight (and lie about) the allegations against him.

*

Junior's father in a prepared statement on his illness:

"I never knew the impact of his bi-polar disorder and now have a greater appreciation for the destruction it has caused and can cause.

"His success may have blurred the sickness. He has been very passionate about his work . . . his perfect voting record, voter registrations, the clean water tank in Ford Heights, fighting for the airport in Peotone and speaking in many schools.

"Somewhere along the way the trauma of his sickness has impacted him. A year ago, he would have not had the strength to face the decision. He is not well but is gaining strength."

The elder Jackson also said that "a year ago, we almost lost him."

Then again, he also said he was thankful the judge took his son's mental health into consideration "in her own way" in her sentencing. Which is only true if by "in her own way" he meant "not at all."

*

See also, though: Letters To Judge Reveal Private Struggle Of Jesse Jr.

*

"On Wednesday night, it appears the Jacksons are already laying the groundwork for life after prison," ABC7 Chicago "reports."

"ABC7'S Cheryl Burton details the rise and fall of this one-time power couple, as well as an exclusive conversation she had with Jesse Jr. on Wednesday night.

"When Burton asked him how he was doing, he said: 'I'm still here.'

"He then reiterated that, 'I take full responsibility for my actions,' and then he said 'That's why I told the judge, spare my wife prison, give me her time so she can stay with the children.'"

That's it. That's the exclusive. Former Honey Bear Burton got him on the phone - or was favored with a call - and he delivered a content-free comment that Channel 7 is touting as "reporting."

Burton must be a friend of the family because it's not the first time she's played their patsy.

But what about the opening tease that the Jacksons are already plotting a return to political life?

Here it is:

"[S]ome political analysts say don't count them out just yet.

"'I can see them running again, the Jackson name is powerful,' said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington."

That's it.

And Burton makes more money than Sandi ever did. Maybe that's the sort of thing that drove the Jacksons nuts.

*

And here's genius Eric Horng's report on what the Jacksons can expect in prison:

"New federal prisoners typically sleep on a top bunk. He'll likely wear a standard issue prison uniform, and could be assigned to scrub toilets, or work in a kitchen or laundry."

Yes. We've all seen TV.

*

At least WGN-TV delivered one of the rare worthy "Chicagoans react" stories if only for the dude who says "You had it comin', bro."

[Note: Autoplay is a menace but once again I was unable to dismantle it.]

-

Previously:
* Jesse Jackson Jr. Is Super Tired.

* On The Continuing Evasions Of Sandi Jackson.

* Sandi Jackson's Disdainful Goodbye.

-

See also:
* What Does Junior Want?

* Jesse Jackson Jr.'s Dark Days.

* Reporting The Jesse Jackson Jr. Story.

-

Comments welcome.



Permalink

Posted on August 15, 2013


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