Ethics Committee Restarts Probe of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

Posted October 18, 2011 at 3:25pm

The House Ethics Committee announced this afternoon that it would resume its consideration of possible ethics violations committed by Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) now that a suspension requested by the Justice Department has been withdrawn.

Two years ago, the Ethics Committee said it had agreed to a Justice Department request to defer its inquiry into whether Jackson offered to raise money for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) in exchange for being appointed to the Senate seat left open when President Barack Obama was elected to the White House in 2008. Blagojevich ultimately appointed Sen. Roland Burris, who did not run for a full term in 2010.

A jury found Blagojevich guilty of 17 of 20 corruption charges at the conclusion of his trial in June. U.S. District Judge James Zagel indefinitely postponed Blagojevich’s sentencing hearing earlier this month.

Jackson’s office said it had not yet prepared a response to the committee’s announcement.

Ethics Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and ranking member Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) said the independent Office of Congressional Ethics referred the Jackson matter for review on Aug. 6, 2009, after which it was deferred at the request of the Department of Justice. The committee voted on Oct. 13 to end the deferral period. Absent an active request for deferral, the committee must release the OCE’s findings within 45 days or issue a public statement that it is extending consideration of the case for another 45-day period.

“The Committee notes that the mere fact of a referral or extension, and the mandatory disclosure of such an extension and the name of the subject of the matter, does not indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee,” today’s statement read.

The committee will announce by Dec. 2 whether it will proceed with a formal investigation.

Correction: Oct. 18, 2011

An earlier version of this story misstated when the Justice Department asked for an inquiry deferral. It was two years ago.