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Jesse Jackson Jr. Gets 2 ½ Years for Misusing Campaign Funds
Former Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the famous and somewhat infamous “Reverend” Jesse Jackson Sr., and once one of the most promising black politicians in the U.S., has unfortunately fallen into disgrace for the misuse of $750,000 in campaign money, which he and his wife used personally to buy mink capes, vacations, a gold-plated Rolex watch, and mounted elk heads. The former Democratic representative apologized for his behavior before U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson when he was sentenced Wednesday for a total of 2 ½ years in prison.
“I mislead the American people” said Jackson at the hearing, as reported by Reuters. “I also want to apologize to my dad and my mother. I take responsibility for my actions and I’m very sorry for what I have done,” he said.
Though he took responsibility for his actions, the frivolous spending may be somewhat related to his struggle with bipolar, as he was diagnosed after a breakdown in July 2012. He was treated for over six weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester Minnesota for bipolar disorder, and while this does not explain away his misuse of public trust, it at least gives the behavior some context.
“I stand before you today asking for mercy,” said his wife, Sandi Jackson, who also said “my heart breaks every day with the pain it has caused my babies,” in reference to the couple’s two children. She will serve her own prison sentence 30 days after her husband’s release, so that the children’s lives are not disrupted too much.
Naturally enough, his father, the “Reverend” Jackson told reporters that the situation has been “extraordinarily difficult” for the family.
“Jesse’s been very sick,” he said. “This time a year ago, I really thought we may have lost him. I think he’s strong enough now to accept the challenges put before him by the judge.”