Were Illinois state workers forced to attend a Pelosi rally for Jesse Jackson Jr in Chicago?

posted at 10:41 am on August 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

So says one state worker, who has come forward and signed an affadavit to that effect.  Marcy Bailey worked for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission in December of last year, and was instructed by her supervisors to attend a rally sponsored by Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition in support of spending on student loans being held in Chicago — hundreds of miles from her Clay County home.  Sensing somehow that a Rainbow PUSH rally might be overtly political and overtly hostile to her own political beliefs, Bailey tried to demur — and was ordered to attend, and to charge the state for all her expenses.

And that’s just the start:

According to the whistle-blower, Rev. Jackson also encouraged the government employees to load first-generation and low-income college students up with student loan debt — because Democrats in Congress, he allegedly promised, would eventually pass laws to forgive that debt later. “[T]hose people will continue to vote Democratic,” Jackson Sr. said, according to the whistle-blower.

On March 3, Pelosi flew to Chicago to endorse Rep. Jackson Jr., 17 days ahead of a heated March 20 Democratic primary he later won. Pelosi was scheduled to make the endorsement at a press conference later in the day, after she participated in an hour-long “forum” hosted by the elder Jackson at the headquarters of his progressive Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Pelosi politicized that forum, jumping the gun and endorsing Jackson Jr. earlier than planned.

“One of the reasons I am here, and I will do this following this wonderful meeting, is to publicly state my endorsement of Jesse Jackson Jr. for re-election,” Pelosi said at the Rainbow PUSH forum. “I do so with great pride. I remember when he came to the Congress with a great name and a great tradition of his parents. But he came and he made his own mark in the Congress from his own generation.”

Why did her supervisors want her to attend?

“When I arrived at the meeting location, our ISAC directors instructed us to go to the second floor and congregate in a side hallway outside of zwhere Jesse Jackson Sr. was speaking to a group of individuals, including candidates and other political figures that were being addressed as ‘judge’ and ‘senator,’” Bailey wrote. “With cameras flashing, Jesse Jackson Sr., candidates and politicians left the conference room, and we were staged to look like we were political supporters. In other words, we were used as props during a campaign season.”

There is no indication at this time that Nancy Pelosi or either of the Jacksons knew that ISAC workers had been compelled to attend the event.  However, for the ISAC supervisors who ordered the attendance of dozens of staffers for the rally, this could be a very big problem.  The Daily Caller notes that state law prohibits the use of public funds for political activities.  The ISAC uses federal funding, which may create an even bigger problem for the agency, as it would almost certainly violate the Hatch Act.

Be sure to read the entire article, especially for the reaction Matthew Boyle received from ISAC spokesman John Samuels, who clearly needs a lesson in public relations.  In fact, his rude and hostile reaction calls into question how he got chosen for this particular job in the first place, and certainly doesn’t do anything to assuage concerns of politicization at ISAC.


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