Before Jesse L. Jackson officially begins lobbying the Senate next month for D.C. statehood, he is inviting a legal confrontation as a pro-statehood protest.

Jackson said yesterday he will ignore a General Accounting Office legal opinion forbidding the District's two newly elected Senate lobbyists to spend any money, public or private, on their offices.

He said he may challenge the opinion in court, and if necessary, "I'll be willing to go to jail to sit in the U.S. Senate."

District officials created the two Senate posts and a House post to lobby Congress for statehood, but stipulated that no tax money be used to fund the positions. Jackson said yesterday that the GAO opinion had found that private fund-raising by the shadow senators also would be illegal.

GAO General Counsel James M. Hinchman wrote in April that the Senate lobbying posts could not raise or spend any money "until the District has obtained congressional authorization to do so." Congress's permission has not been requested.

Seymour Efros, a GAO associate general counsel, said yesterday that Hinchman's opinion is not legally binding, but is considered influential by government officials and could be challenged in court.

Although he has not yet collected any funds for his office, Jackson said he plans to do so in violation of the ruling. He called it "obviously oppressive and totally unfair."

"Under these rules, legal means of fighting {for statehood} are prohibited," Jackson said. "You can only fight illegally or not at all. It's saying you don't have the right to fight for the right" of statehood.

"In South Africa, even the African National Congress has been unbanned," Jackson said. "The ANC can set up an office there, but we can't set up an office here in Washington."

Jackson plans to begin his campaign for statehood today with a news conference to be attended by some District officials. Along with his plan to invite legal action, he and other officials will announce a pro-statehood vigil in front of the White House next month.

Otherwise, the office of shadow senator remains more an idea than a reality. Jackson said yesterday he does not expect to be allowed onto the floor of the Senate while it is in session, and said he has not met with Senate leaders since his election last month.

The District's other elected Senate lobbyist, Florence Pendleton (D), had a brief meeting last week with Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell (D-Maine), which she described as introductory. Jackson and Mitchell are expected to meet next month.

Both Jackson and Pendleton said yesterday they are in the early stages of organizing their offices. "A lot of people on the Hill look on statehood with contempt," Jackson said. "I'll be willing to use every legal and extralegal means to win representation" for the District.

Aides to several senior Democrats said there had been no serious discussions regarding what privileges, if any, the elected lobbyists should be afforded. The historical precedents regarding shadow senators are mixed.

Aside from the District, six aspiring states elected Senate delegations before they were admitted to the union, beginning with Tennessee in 1796. Only Tennessee's shadow lawmakers were allowed on the Senate floor during sessions. Others were provided seats in the Senate gallery or left to fend for themselves.

After Jackson announced that he would seek the office this summer, he met with Mitchell to discuss the post, and there was speculation that the District delegation would be given some official status. Since then, however, such hopes have faded.

There appears to be little enthusiasm among senators for recognizing the District delegation. "We would not treat them in the capacity of an elected official," said Sen. Charles S. Robb (D-Va.). "I think they will be accorded the dignity and respect any citizen who comes to advocate an interest receives."