Ethics Committee Investigates Rep. Jackson in Blago Fallout

Committee questions his relationship with indicted governor

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Rep. Jesse Jackson confirmed that he is the subject of an investigation by the Office of Congressional Ethics, which is looking into his relationship with indicted Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

The investigation by the independent, nonpartisan board involves Blagojevich’s efforts to sell the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.

“I am cooperating fully with the preliminary review being conducted by the Office of Congressional Ethics,” said Jackson in a statement. “As I said when the Blagojevich scandal first broke back in December, I have done nothing wrong and reject pay-to-play politics.  I’m confident that this new ethics office — which I voted in favor of creating — will be able to conduct a fair and expeditious review and dismiss this matter.”

Due to the confidentiality of the process, Leo Wise, staff director and chief council for the OCE, could not confirm if an investigation was underway. But Jackson said Wednesday that he was notified last week about the inquiry.

Documents from Blagojevich’s 19-count indictment allege that the former governor believed the Democratic state senator would pay him $1.5 million for the appointment..

Sen. Roland Burris, who was appointed by Blagojevich to replace Obama, is also being investigated by the Senate ethics committee for not providing full disclosure during Blagojevich’s impeachment trial. Under oath, Burris said he had not talked with anyone close to Burris, but later he said that the governor’s brother approached him about raising money for the Senate Seat. Burris says he declined the opportunity.

The OCE is comprised of nonlawmakers who review and investigate possible ethics violations by House members and their staff. A preliminary review is initiated when a written request is made by two members – of different political parties — of the eight person board, Wise said. If merited, the board will refer the case to the House ethics committee.
If the OCE dismisses a case, no record is made. Only the House ethics committee has the authority to make recommendations of censure or punishment.

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