The tale of financial wrongdoing by former Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D–IL) and his wife and former campaign manager, Sandra Jackson, continued today when they both pled guilty in a Washington, D.C. courtroom to criminal violations of federal law.
Jackson pled guilty this morning to one conspiracy count of filing false campaign reports with the Federal Election Commission and the House of Representatives and fraudulently obtaining funds from his election campaign through mail and wire fraud that he used for personal expenses totaling $750,000. Sandra Jackson pled guilty to one count of filing fraudulent tax forms from 2006 to 2011 to cover up their receipt of these funds. Heritage has previously highlighted the specific campaign finance laws at issue.
According to documents filed on Friday and Monday, the couple spent these campaign funds on “high-end electronic items, collector’s items, clothing, food and supplies for daily consumption, movie tickets, health club dues, personal travel and personal dining expenses.” That included $60,000 on restaurants, nightclubs, and lounges; $4,000 on a cruise; $243 on a Build-a-Bear workshop; $17,000 on tobacco shops; $14,500 on dry cleaning; and over $7,000 to a taxidermist in Montana for mounted elk heads to hang in Jackson’s Washington office.
Jackson told U.S. District Court Judge Robert Wilkins that he “used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes…for myself personally, to benefit me personally.” He acknowledged that the government’s recital of the facts was “accurate” and said “I am guilty, your honor.”
Jackson admitted he had been under psychiatric care but asserted that he understood fully what was happening in the courtroom: “Sir, I’ve never been more clear in my life.”
Judge Wilkins still must sentence the couple, and will likely do so in June. Under the applicable guidelines agreed to by his lawyers and the prosecution, the range of sentencing for Jesse Jackson runs from 46 to 57 months in prison. In addition to returning the $750,000, he also faces a fine of between $10,000 and $100,000.
The Jacksons have two children who were accompanied in the courtroom by Reverend Jesse Jackson and other family members. These guilty pleas curtail the political careers of a Chicago political couple that seemed to have the world at their feet not too long ago.