Tuesday, February 26, 2013

And We Have To Pay For Your Housing?

I wanted to write this post last week when the topic was current but, as usual, I put it off until now. There are so many crooked politicians in America that you could probably write about one each day and never run out of new people. I don't have time for that so I'll pick and choose from the large vat of prospects and write about the ones that really disappoint me. 

So Jesse Jackson Jr., it's your turn.
I would like to say that I'm surprised by the lack of media attention this has received. To be fair, I think that most of the major newspapers, TV news programs, and other media have reported on this story. But have they reported it as much if this had been, say, a republican Representative from Illinois? I'm just sayin'... 

Jesse Jackson Jr., the former Democratic representative from Illinois, pleaded guilty last Wednesday to one felony fraud count in connection with his use of $750,000 in campaign money to pay for living expenses and buy items like stuffed animals, elk heads and fur capes and a $43,000 Rolex watch. According to the official charges, Jackson spent campaign funds on Michael Jackson, Bruce Lee, Jimi Hendrix, and Martin Luther King, Jr. memorabilia, which prosecutors hope to confiscate.

I know this is getting to be a longer post than I had planned but I have to add a few examples of the out and out thievery that Jackson and his wife committed: Court papers released by federal prosecutors provided new details about how Mr. Jackson and his wife used the $750,000 in campaign money to finance their lavish lifestyle. 

From 2007 to 2011, Mr. Jackson bought $10,977.74 worth of televisions, DVD players and DVDs at Best Buy, according to the documents. In 2008, Mr. Jackson used the money for things like a $466.30 dinner at CityZen in the Mandarin Oriental in Washington and a $5,587.75 vacation at the Martha’s Vineyard Holistic Retreat, the document said.
On at least two instances, Mr. Jackson and his wife used campaign money at Build-A-Bear Workshop, a store where patrons can create stuffed animals. From December 2007 through December 2008, the Jacksons spent $313.89 on “stuffed animals and accessories for stuffed animals” from Build-A-Bear, according to the documents.
One of the more exotic items they bought was an elk head from a taxidermist in Montana. According to the documents, Mr. Jackson arranged in March 2011 to have $7,000 paid to the taxidermist, with much of the money coming from a campaign account, and it was shipped a month later to Mr. Jackson’s Congressional office.
A year later, Mr. Jackson’s wife, knowing that the elk head had been bought with campaign money, had it moved from Washington to Chicago, and she asked a Congressional staff member to sell it, the documents say.
In August 2012, the staff member sold the elk head for $5,300 to an interior designer and had the money wired to one of Mr. Jackson’s accounts. What the staff member did not know was that the interior designer was actually an undercover F.B.I. employee who was investigating the Jacksons, the documents say.
Documents released on Friday showed how Mr. Jackson used his campaign money to buy items like fur capes, celebrity memorabilia and expensive furniture.
Among those items were a $5,000 football signed by American presidents and two hats that once belonged to Michael Jackson, including a $4,600 fedora. 
"We're in the money now Sandi!" "Go get it Jesse!"

Of course Jackson waited until the trial was near to agree to a plea bargain. But really, how are you going to plead not guilty when they have you dead to rights?? 

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors recommended that Mr. Jackson receive a sentence of 46 to 57 months in prison. The federal judge overseeing the case, Robert L. Wilkins, is scheduled to sentence Mr. Jackson on June 28.
“For years I lived off my campaign,” Mr. Jackson, 47, said in response to questions from the judge about the plea. “I used money I shouldn’t have used for personal purposes.” “Guilty, Your Honor — I misled the American people,” Mr. Jackson said when asked whether he would accept the plea deal. 

After the hearing, Mr. Jackson’s lawyer, Reid H. Weingarten, said his client had “come to terms with his misconduct.”Mr. Weingarten said that Mr. Jackson had serious health issues that “directly related” to his conduct.“That’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact,” Mr. Weingarten said. 
So remember that folks if you ever get caught stealing. It's probably caused by your medical conditions and not really your fault.

 Mr. Jackson’s wife, Sandi, also accompanied him, and later in the day she pleaded guilty to a charge that she filed false income tax statements during the time that Mr. Jackson was dipping into his campaign treasury. Prosecutors said they would seek to have her sentenced to 18 to 24 months. Nice to see they were close enough in their marriage to join together in their criminal activities.

Mr. Jackson’s plea was yet another chapter in the downward spiral of his career. Elected to Congress in 1995 at the age of 30 from a district that includes part of the South Side of Chicago, Mr. Jackson was once one of the most prominent young black politicians in the country, working on issues related to health care and education for the poor.But I guess that didn't pay enough. 

But as the federal authorities investigated Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois over his efforts to sell the Senate seat that President Obama vacated in 2008, they uncovered evidence that one of Mr. Jackson’s friends had offered to make a contribution to Mr. Blagojevich’s campaign in exchange for the seat. Since then, Mr. Jackson, who has said he had no knowledge of the offer, has been dogged by questions about his ethics. 

Last summer, Mr. Jackson took a medical leave from Congress and was later treated for bipolar disorder. After winning re-election in November, he resigned, citing his health and the federal investigation into his use of campaign money. I'm sure we'll be hearing how his health problems likely led to this "misconduct" that normal people call theft. As long as you hang your head low enough and you can work up some tears in your eyes  (while secretly pinching you leg) you will get pity and support because you have "seen the light" or you "were forced to be misled by others around you". 

But to me they are no different than a shoplifter, a car thief, a burglar, a bank robber or any other common thief in this world. They just held a more trusting position and selected by voters to take care of the political business required by every state. To me they are even worse than a common thief who are usually strangers to us. The politicians that turn crooked are people that we trusted to work for us. Trusted to care about us. Trusted to be a voice for us. They should be ashamed. And we should be ashamed if we allow this to continue. 

You want to be in politics? Good. But be prepared to have your background checked to the smallest degree. Be prepared to answer questions about your past. And be prepared to be accountable while you hold that office. And be prepared to go to jail if you are a thief!

Good riddance Mr. and Mrs. Jackson. I can't wait until they slam the door on your cells.

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