So, the Office of Congressional Ethics joined in the Holiday Document Dump Spirit (ho, ho, ho!) on Friday and unloaded a two-year-old report on Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s cameo role in the Blago Senate seat trading scam.
The announcement is on the OCE site here, but you can read the 300-page report right here in case you missed it:
The upshot: The toothless OCE found “probable cause” and “substantial reason to believe” that not only did Jackson conspire to trade campaign cash for the Senate appointment, but that Jackson also broke the law by using taxpayer-subsidized office resources to promote a “public campaign” for Barack Obama’s old seat. Straight from the report:
There is probable cause to believe that Representative Jackson either (1) directed a third-party, most likely Mr. Raghuveer Nayak, to offer to raise money for Governor Blagojevich in exchange for appointing Representative Jackson to the Senate seat, or (2) had knowledge that Nayak would likely make such an offer once Representative Jackson authorized him to advocate on his behalf with Governor Blagojevich. Because former Governor Blagojevich, Nayak and Mr. Rajinder Bedi have declined to cooperate with the OCE investigation, and because the OCE cannot compel their cooperation, the OCE is unable to determine whether there is a substantial reason to believe these allegations.
…There is substantial reason to believe that Representative Jackson violated federal law and rules promulgated by the Committee on House Administration concerning the proper use of the Member’s Representational Allowance. Specifically, the OCE learned from Representative Jackson and his staff that staff resources both in the Representative’s Washington, DC and Chicago, Illinois, offices were used to mount a “public campaign” to secure the Representative’s appointment to the Senate.
None of this is new news — most of the details emerged in the Chicago press and at trial — though the moldy oldy report includes a fresh, 17-page CYA letter from Jackson and his attorneys denying everything and invoking the see no corruption, hear no corruption defense.
And while OCE plays docu-dump reindeer games, the House Ethics Committee has decided to play more Kick the Can. Sporting its own holiday scandal muffler, the panel announced…it would have nothing to announce. It reneged on a do-something Friday deadline in Jackson’s ethics case and said it would continue to investigate:
Pursuant to House Rule XI, Clause 3(a)(8)(A) and Committee Rules 17A(b)(1)(A) and 17A(c)(1), the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Committee jointly decided on October 18, 2011 to extend the Committee’s review of the matter until December 2, 2011. In order to gather additional information necessary to complete its review, the Committee will continue to review the matter pursuant to Committee Rule 18(a). The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.
As The Hill reports, Jackson faces a challenge from his left flank and has asked reverse Midas Touch pal Barack Obama for help. Careful what you wish for, crony:
While the committee has not set a new deadline for its decision, the delay threatens to push the committee’s findings into later this year — during what could be a tough primary battle for Jackson. The primary election is March 20.
Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-Ill.) announced in early October that she would challenge Jackson for a new Chicago-based congressional district. That district is primarily composed of Jackson’s current constituents, but includes substantial areas of the Chicago suburbs more familiar with Halvorson.
Jackson’s concern over the district is significant enough that he reportedly asked President Obama for help in the 2012 race. Jackson headed then-Sen. Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign in Illinois.
And while the Ethics Committee emphasized that “conducting further review of a referral … does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred,” having the threat of Ethics Committee punishment looming over Jackson’s primary fight is disconcerting.
Halvorson has indicated she will make it a campaign issue.
As commenter Flyoverman quipped here almost a year ago: “The only ethics committee with any clout is an informed electorate.”
Or as I always like to put it: The ballot box is the ultimate sanitizer.