Jesse Jackson Jr. investigation: On the money trail
November 14, 2012 (CHICAGO) -- As Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s whereabouts remain unknown, federal investigators continue to look into whether he illegally used campaign money to pay for personal expenses.
ABC7 News poured over hundreds of documents detailing several years' worth of expenses.
While the FBI is reportedly interested in the possible use of campaign money to pay for renovations to Jackson's home and the purchase of a $40,000 Rolex watch, we found many far more mundane expenses that show how politicians like Jackson use other people's money to pay for perks.
Alderman Sandi Jackson left her Chicago home Wednesday without comment.
She continues to be one of the big beneficiaries of her husband's campaign fund. She is paid $5,000 for political consulting services every month. She has received $20,000 in consulting fees in the five months since her husband dropped out of sight for treatment for bipolar disorder.
"If paying the wife is an excuse or some ruse to siphon money from the campaign fund that he can spend however he wants, that's where it becomes illegal," the deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform David Morrison said. "If he really is paying fair market value for services she has provided the courts have said that's legal."
A review of Congressman Jackson's filings with the Federal Election Commission reveal a campaign that continues to spend money despite the fact the candidate is missing in action.
Jackson went on medical leave on June 10. Since then his team has paid more than $29,000 for campaign related services, $3,214 for DC-area limo rentals. His campaign's July American Express bill totaled $18,587.
Earlier in the year: the monthly credit card payments bounced between $20,000 and $50,000.
Morrison tracks money in politics and says this was a campaign with an invisible candidate.
"He was spending quite a bit on the campaign and perhaps the polling came back and said 'don't worry: you're good.' And if that's the case that may explain why he was so inactive," Morrison said.
Before Congressman Jackson's medical leave his campaign picked up the tab for a $3,200 tour guide in Jerusalem, more than $13,000 to print and mail Christmas cards and stays at luxury hotels ranging from the Westin in Times Square to the Mandalay Bay in Vegas and the Beverly Hills Hilton.
local, ben bradley
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