Ethics committee looking at Jackson's pursuit of Senate seat

By Ben Pershing
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009; 7:15 PM

The House ethics committee announced in September that it was investigating whether Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) acted improperly in pursuit of an appointment to fill the Illinois Senate seat vacated by President Obama.

The committee revealed that it had already been probing Jackson's actions when it received a separate referral on the same subject from the Office of Congressional Ethics, whose own probe had become public in April. And the ethics panel said that, at the request of the Justice Department, it would hold off any further action in the Jackson case until a criminal investigation into the Senate appointment scandal was completed.

Jackson has acknowledged publicly that he had hoped to be appointed by then-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) to fill Obama's seat, but has denied doing anything inappropriate in that effort. Blagojevich was impeached from office and was indicted in April on corruption charges for allegedly trying to sell the seat. Jackson has admitted he was "Senate Candidate A" in the criminal complaint against Blagojevich, which alleges that Jackson's supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million for Blagojevich if he picked the congressman.

The Office of Congressional Ethics also advised the ethics committee -- according to the panel's September announcement -- that it believed "staff resources" from Jackson's D.C. and Illinois district offices "were used to mount a 'public campaign' " to win the appointment for Jackson, a possible violation of House rules governing the use of lawmakers' office budgets.

When the office's initial probe was made public in April, Jackson said he was cooperating fully with investigators. "As I said when the Blagojevich scandal first broke back in December, I have done nothing wrong and reject pay-to-play politics," Jackson said.

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