Former democratic congressman sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Aug. 14 2013 9:02 PM

Jesse Jackson Jr. Gets Jail Time for Living the High Life With Campaign Funds

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WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 14: Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. (R) leaves the federal court house after being sentenced to prison, August 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.

Mark Wilson

A federal court sentenced former Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. to two-and-a-half years in prison today, punctuating a long fall from grace for the once rising political star.

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The purchases made by Jesse Jr. and his wife were hardly subtle and would have been tough to justify as a business expense for anyone, much less an elected official. The most glaring purchase, according to court papers, was a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch.

He admitted that he and his wife used campaign credit cards to buy 3,100 personal items worth $582,772 from 2005 through April of last year — including $60,857 for personal expenditures at restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $16,058 for personal expenditures at sports clubs and lounges; $5,814 for alcohol and $14,513 for dry cleaning.

Individual campaign credit card purchases included a $466 dinner for two of “a personal nature” at a restaurant; a washer, dryer, range and refrigerator for the Jacksons’ Chicago home; multiple flat-screen televisions, Blu-Ray DVD players and DVDs for their Washington, D.C., home; and a five-day health retreat for one of Mrs. Jackson’s relatives.

Jesse Jr., who resigned from Congress last November, asked to serve his jail time in Alabama “to make it a little inconvenient for everybody to get to me.”  According to court documents, his wife spent more than $5,000 from the campaign's coffers on fur capes and parkas and was sentenced to one year in prison for understating the couple's income on their joint federal tax returns.  

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