Jesse Jackson Jr. 'Manned Up' On Misuse Of Campaign Funds

Aug 15, 2013
Originally published on August 15, 2013 5:34 am
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Jesse Jackson Jr. has been sentenced to 30 months in prison. The former Illinois congressman, who built his political reputation on fighting for the little guy, received that sentence for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds, to buy luxury items for himself and also for his family. His wife, Sandra Jackson, received a year in prison for filing false tax returns

NPR's Sami Yenigun was at the courthouse yesterday, and he sent this report.

SAMI YENIGUN, BYLINE: Through tissues and tears, a remorseful Jesse Jackson Jr. told the judge that he takes responsibility for his actions. Outside of the courtroom, he repeated this point.

JESSE JACKSON JR.: I believe in the power of redemption. Today, I manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the errors of my ways, and I still believe in the resurrection.

YENIGUN: Jackson, son of civil rights activist the Rev. Jesse Jackson, was once a rising star in the Democratic Party. But his career quickly unraveled when it became apparent that the younger Jackson was using campaign dollars to buy, among other things, a Rolex watch, trips to Costco, and two mounted elk heads.

In February, he pleaded guilty to stealing $750,000. The Rev. Jackson was at the courthouse for the sentencing.

THE REV. JESSE JACKSON SR.: I speak really today as a father. Most of my career has been spent outgoing - helping someone else on something I really understood socially and politically. But this one, of course, is home.

YENIGUN: Jackson Jr. is diagnosed bipolar and in the hearing, his attorney, Reid Weingarten, pointed to his condition as something for the judge to consider. But U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson mostly rejected the idea that it was a factor in the case. The ex-congressman's wife, Sandra, had asked for probation so that she could stay with their kids.

The judge did not grant this request, though she did allow the sentences to be staggered so that the children would have at least one parent at home. The children are ages 9 and 13.

Sami Yenigun, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.