Civil rights leader Jacksons son denies seeking to buy Obama’’s Senate seat

December 11th, 2008 - 10:33 am ICT by ANI  

Barack Obama

Springfield (Illinois, US)/Washington, Dec.11 (ANI): Jesse Jackson Junior, the son of the well known civil rights campaigner, Jesse Jackson Senior, has denied that he attempted to buy President-elect Barack Obamas vacated Senate seat from Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
Jackson has emerged as the mysterious “Candidate 5″ being implicated for attempting to purchase the seat
Jackson, 43, was a key member of Obama’’s presidential campaign team and Obama’’s wife, Michelle, has close personal links to the Jackson family.
The Washington Times quoted Jackson Junior as vehemently denying trying to bribe Blagojevich to name him to President-elect Barack Obama’’s old Senate seat.
Facing reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Jackson said he was seeking the Senate seat and that he met with the Blagojevich on Monday for the first time in four years. He said he offered only his qualifications and record in seeking the appointment.
“I did not initiate nor authorize anyone, at any time, to promise anything to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf,” Jackson said, reading from a prepared statement.
“I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer or to plead my case or to propose a deal about the U.S. Senate seat, period.”
Jackson said he spoke on Tuesday with members of the U.S. attorney’’s office who told him he was not a target of the investigation and was “not accused of any misconduct.”
His attorney acknowledged that his client was the “Senate Candidate 5″ mentioned 16 times in a 76-page affidavit laying out the FBI’s corruption case against Blagojevich, but he said Jackson was not aware of anyone cutting deals on his behalf.
Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich stands accused of attempting to ‘’sell” Obama’’s vacant Senate seat in return for a cabinet position, ambassadorship, well-paid union job or a place on a lucrative company board for his wife.
After initially saying it would be “inappropriate” for him to comment fully on the scandal, Obama, who built the foundations of his successful White House run in Chicago, called on Blagojevich to resign.
Robert Gibbs, Obama’’s spokesman, said “under the current circumstances, it was difficult for the governor to effectively do his job and serve the people of Illinois”.
According to The Telegraph, the danger for Obama, is that the scandal could trigger investigations on the scale of the Whitewater probes about an Arkansas land deal, which dogged President Bill Clinton and his aides for years.
Republicans made the most of the opportunity to increase the pressure on Obama, highlighting his pledge for greater transparency in government as they called for him to detail all contacts with Blagojevich and e-mailed past quotations from him speaking supportively of the now disgraced governor.
In a Tuesday interview with the Chicago Tribune, Obama declined to answer a question about whether he was aware of any conversations between his advisers and Blagojevich, including the new White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, who took over his seat in Congress in 2003.
Federal law enforcement sources allegedly told ABC News that Jackson Jr., who was a national co-chairman of Obama’’s campaign and openly lobbied to replace him in the Senate.
According to the 76-page complaint, Blagojevich, who was released on bail after being charged following his dawn arrest, “stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided” the governor with something “tangible up front.”
Candidate 5 is the only one of the five referred to in the complaint whom the authorities believe may have considered giving Blagojevich, whom Jackson visited two days before his arrest, a favour in return for the Senate seat.
Jackson, a prominent ally of Obama’’s during the presidential campaign, told Chicago reporters that he did not know if he was Candidate 5 and had been told that “I am not a target of this investigation”.
He had, however, been asked “to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process”, something he would do “as quickly as possible” after consulting a lawyer.
Patrick Fitzgerald, the US attorney overseeing the Blagojevich investigation, said prosecutors “make no allegations that he [Obama] was aware of anything”.
The affidavit quotes Blagojevich as telling one of his advisers that he had bumped up Candidate 5 in his mind because the person, through an associate, has said the candidate would be willing to raise more money than other competitors for a future Blagojevich campaign.
The U.S. attorney’’s office declined to comment about the son of the famed civil rights leader, who was elected to his Chicago congressional seat in 1995. (ANI)

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