Reports: Jesse Jackson, Jr. signs plea agreement, will do prison time

After having skated despite reports that his representative offered $6 million dollars to then-Governor Rod Blagojevich to be appointed to fill Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat in 2009, it appears that Jesse Jackson Jr. may be joining his erstwhile bribee in the federal slammer.

Surprisingly few major media outlets have covered the story so far (for obvious reasons), but the best and most complete coverage comes from the Chicago Sun-Times, and its reporters Natasha Korecki, Michael Sneed and Dan Mihalopoulos:

Jesse Jackson Jr. has signed an agreement to plead guilty to federal corruption charges and acknowledge misuse of his campaign fund, sources said

The former 17-year South Shore Democratic congressman had told associates that he tried "protecting" his wife during negotiations leading up to the plea agreement, but "they wouldn't let him," the source said.

The charges on which Jackson reportedly copped a plea center on misuse of campaign funds for personal benefit (such as paying for a $40,000 Rolex watch - talk about living large! In President Obama's favorite sort of language, does anyone need a watch that costs 40 grand?). Mrs. Jackson reportedly at times was receiving $5000 a month from the campaign as a consultant (while at the same time purportedly serving her constituents as a Chicago alderman), and while no hard details are available, she may also be the target of a separate parallel federal investigation.

Some observers speculate that Mrs. Jackson may be spared jail time because the couple has young children.

A preview of how the progressive media is likely to handle this embarrassment has been provided by John Avlon of the Daily Beast: it is a "fall from grace," doncha know. Yes, there once was a budding Camelot story, where "[o]ne of the great orators of modern American history, a youthful confidant of Dr. Martin Luther King and a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, the Reverend Jesse Jackson" promised so much to America but somehow or other didn't deliver. And now the consequences have ensnared his son, who, by the way, suffers from bipolar disorder, which caused him to resign from Congress [and avoid an Ethics Committee probe].

It is such a tragedy that one almost hears the soft weeping of compassionate liberals in the background.

Sorry, the apple has not fallen far from the tree. Jesse, Sr. has always been a ruthless luxury-loving, power-hungry extortionist. When Dr. King was slain in Memphis, Jackson reportedly rushed to his side, smeared blood on his shirt, and was photographed with the body, establishing his credentials. He has conducted campaigns to instill fear in major corporations, netting donations wherein they buy  (rent, actually) peace and quiet. That his son played fast and loose with money, and enriched and bejeweled himself should surprise no one.

Details are so far absent, so we don't know what kind of prison time might await the bipolar ex-solon. It is conceivable that he could even net a suspended sentence.  Rod Blagojevich netted a 14 year sentence, and is doing his time in Littleton, CO, a facility which is regarded as no country club. Let's hope the wheels of justice grind equally fine for Jesse Junior.

Surprisingly, NBC News managed to find space on its evening newscast yesterday for this story. Throughout, the NBC-owned station in Chicago has, along with the Sun-Times, been covering this Chicag0-style corruption with some enthusiasm.

Hat tip: Peter von Buol

Update: Anne Sorock of Legal Insurrection wonders if Jesse Jr. is cutting a deal"

One thing which is not clear is if Jesse Jr.'s deal includes cooperation in testifying against others in exchange for leniency.  Jackson almost certainly knows where many Chicago political scandals are buried.

I spoke with Bill Miller at the U.S. Attorney's office in Washington, DC, who told me there was no comment on the case.

I followed up with an email asking whether the deal would be made public, and if the terms include Jackson testifying about others' involvement. His response:

Thanks for the note. The U.S. Attorney's Office has no comment on the case.

I'd be glad to keep you posted of any developments.