The House Ethics Committee announced Friday it will continue its investigation into allegations Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. or someone acting on his behalf offered to raise campaign cash for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for a Senate appointment in 2008.
The committee had previously said it would determine by Friday what course its investigation of the Democrat and son of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson would take. The younger Jackson has said he expected to be exonerated.
Instead, the committee will continue looking into allegations involving Blagojevich and whether Jackson inappropriately used government resources to angle for an appointment. The committee said in a statement that continuing the investigation “does not itself indicate that any violation occurred.”
The extension could have political consequences for Jackson Jr. He will stand for reelection in 2012 in a rejiggered congressional district that has attracted a viable primary opponent, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson. Halvorson, a Democrat who represented the new terrain in Jackson Jr.’s district both in Congress and in the Illinois Legislature, has indicated she will make Jackson’s ethical cloud an issue in the race. Jackson and his staff alike have said they’d like to put the investigation behind them before running for re-election. Illinois’ primary is scheduled for March 2012.
Jackson responded to the committee’s decision to extend the investigation by releasing a letter from his attorneys. In it, Reid H. Weingarten and Brian M. Heberlig wrote that there is no basis for the committee’s investigation and urged the panel to “close its investigation of this matter.”
“Although Congressman Jackson was interested in the appointment … he was largely focused on his own re-election and Obama’s campaign,” Weingarten and Heberlig said.