Reporting Meghan McCorkell
WASHINGTON (WJZ) — A massive misuse of money. Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the prominent civil rights leader, pleads guilty to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign cash on his extravagant lifestyle.
Meghan McCorkell has more on the fall of a promising politician.
Jesse Jackson Jr. spent 17 years as a congressman on Capitol Hill. Now he could be spending years behind bars.
Amidst a crush of people, Jackson emerged from federal court in D.C. after pleading guilty to federal conspiracy charges.
“I’m sorry I let everybody down,” he told reporters.
In tears in front of a judge and with his father in the front row, Jackson admitted to spending three-quarters of a million dollars in campaign funds to finance his lavish lifestyle.
During the seven-year scheme, Jackson spent $60,000 at restaurants and nightclubs, $43,000 on a Rolex watch and more than $14,000 on dry cleaning bills.
“It is clear that Jesse Jackson became convinced that his campaign account could be used to satisfy any personal whim that he had,” said U.S. Attorney Ronald Machen.
Jackson’s wife Sandra also pleaded guilty for filing false tax returns. She admits she failed to report $600,000 in income.
Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned from Congress last November. He’s been treated at the Mayo clinic for bipolar disorder, something his attorneys say contributed to his actions.
“Those health issues are directly related to his present predicament. That’s not an excuse; that’s just a fact,” said defense attorney Reid Weingarten.
Jackson has agreed to pay back $750,000 in campaign funds, including money he spent on travel and meals with a mistress.
He will be sentenced in June. Under the plea agreement, Jackson faces up to five years in jail but a judge reminded him he is not bound by those sentencing guidelines.
Jackson will be sentenced July 1. She faces up to two years in prison.