Jackson Proclaims Innocence

Posted December 10, 2008 at 4:17pm

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) on Wednesday denied any involvement in the unfolding corruption scandal involving Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and called on the governor to step down.

Jackson said the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Illinois contacted him Tuesday and “shared with me that I am not a target of the investigation and that I am not accused of any misconduct.”

Jackson has previously expressed interest in being appointed to the Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. But his plans may have to be put on hold, at least temporarily, in the wake of news reports that he is “Senate Candidate Number 5” in the federal arrest document in the Blagojevich scandal.

The document alleges that this candidate discussed giving $500,000 in campaign donations to Blagojevich in exchange for the Senate seat.

“I did not initiate nor authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Gov. Blagojevich on my behalf,” Jackson said during a Capitol Hill news conference. “I never sent an emissary to the governor to make an offer or to plead my case or to promise a deal about the U.S. Senate seat. Period.”

Jackson said he met with Blagojevich on Monday — the first time the two had met in four years — to present “my record, my qualifications and my vision. … And that’s what we discussed.”

In light of the criminal indictment, Jackson said Blagojevich should resign and forfeit his authority to make the Senate appointment.

The Illinois Congressman declined to take any questions, citing the advice of his lawyer.