Politics

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.: 'I will be vindicated'

Sunday, October 30, 2011
(FILE) Jesse Jackson Jr.

Chicago Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. says he will be vindicated when a House ethics committee wraps up its investigation.

At the Kankakee County NAACP's annual dinner on Saturday night, Jackson spoke publicly for the first time since the brother of former governor Rod Blagojevich, Robert Blagojevich, offered to testify to Congress in the case.

"You've seen the news reports regarding the on-going investigation. Let me be clear, I believe in the American system of justice," Jackson said. "The process is continuing, and in the end I believe I will be vindicated."

Robert Blagojevich testified during his criminal trial that Jackson's representatives offered to raise about $6 million for his brother's campaign in exchange for a Senate appointment.

Earlier this week, Blagojevich told ABC7 it was not immediately clear if the panel would accept his offer.

"I feel the responsibility to tell the committee that I could give them information if they are seeking the truth," Blagojevich said.

Blagojevich's offer comes after Jackson's father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., turned down the former governor's request to write a letter of support to his sentencing judge.

"The Blagojevich family is probably angry at a lot of people, and this may be just one way of lashing out," said ABC7 political analyst Laura Washington.

The 16-year congressman faces a tough primary battle with former congresswoman Debbie Halvorson.

"This is just one more distraction that keeps him from working for the district. I'm out there working now," Halvorson said.

Jackson's congressional district has been redrawn to include Will and Kankakee counties, which are areas where Halverson is well-known.

"She's got a lot of name recognition, and he's under a huge cloud. So he's got reason to be concerned," Washington said.

Both Jackson and Halverson were in Kankakee at the NAACP gathering Saturday night. Jackson, the event's keynote speaker, touted his proposal for a privately-funded third airport near Peotone.

"I plan to deliver to this region what no other Congressional District in this country, at this hour, is shovel-ready prepared to do: an airport at no cost to the taxpayers," Jackson said.

It does appear, however, that the U.S. Justice Department will not be seeking any prosecution of Jackson.

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