Former Congressman arrested in Zimbabwe on pornography charges

posted at 10:01 am on February 18, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

We last heard from Mel Reynolds when he launched his “Redemption” campaign to win back his Congressional seat in a special election, after Jesse Jackson Jr’s conviction on corruption charges. Jackson originally won the seat in a special election after Reynolds’ conviction on statutory-rape charges, later adding corruption charges before Bill Clinton commuted his sentence at the end of his presidency.  Reynolds didn’t make much of an impact on the House race, but instead began traveling to promote tourism … or so he claims now, after being arrested in Zimbabwe on pornography charges:

The state-controlled newspaper, The Herald, reported that Reynolds was arrested Monday for allegedly possessing pornographic material and violating immigration laws.

Reynolds, an Illinois Democrat, resigned from his congressional seat in 1995 after he was convicted of 12 counts of statutory rape, obstruction of justice and solicitation of child pornography.

The CBS affiliate in Chicago has a slightly more detailed account of the allegations being lodged against the former Democratic Congressman:

Another source told the paper Reynolds had filmed more than 100 videos, and shot 2,000 nude pictures of at least 10 different women on various occasions. The paper also said he owes more than $24,000 in unpaid hotel bills.

The Herald reported Reynolds entered Zimbabwe last year, purporting to be a middleman for foreign investors in the tourism industry.

The Hill, which is the only news outlet to note his party affiliation, also reports that Reynolds also stayed past the time limits on his visa. Zimbabwean officials confiscated his travel documents, which Reynolds claims to have misplaced but just recently rediscovered.

What’s the lesson from this? First, perhaps this is yet another clemency action for which Bill Clinton should answer, as Reynolds appears not to have rehabilitated much if these allegations turn out to be true. Second, Chicago chose wisely enough not to buy the idea that just because a politician puts the word REDEMPTION on a campaign sign, he’s owed his public office back. As I wrote at the time, redemption is always a possibility, but a position of public trust isn’t the measure of it, nor the required reward.

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Schadenfreude on February 18, 2014 at 2:18 PM


Appalacher on February 18, 2014 at 2:28 PM

The real war on women.

Kissmygrits on February 18, 2014 at 2:35 PM

Probably going to be difficult to play the race card in Zimbabwe.

Oldnuke on February 18, 2014 at 2:40 PM

So Reynolds won office in 1992 after the former officeholder was caught in a sex scandal, then was in prison within 3 years for his own, and Jesse Jackson Jr won, before he went to prison himself….

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 18, 2014 at 11:56 AM

Hey, it was 1992, so cut the voters of IL-2 some slack. After all, 1992 was the Year of the Woman in which The Man From Hope told us that It Was The Economy, Stupid and promised Change as the torch of leadership of our country was passed to a New Generation: The Baby Boomers! And in those heady days a young and attractive 40-year-old Mel Reynolds stepped onto the national stage and stepped into history, I tell ya!

Being a Gen-Xer, I can confirm firsthand that a lot of my generation (then in our teens and early 20s) bought into the Clinton hype just as badly as the millenials bought into 0bama.

Actual conversation between me and the girl (Amy) in the locker next to me junior year, shortly before Election Day:

Me: “I’m not sold on Clinton. If I were old enough to vote, I’d probably vote to re-elect Bush.”
Amy (looks at me strangely): “Really? Don’t you want Change in this country?”
Me: “But what kind of change? What is he promising that you think will make this country better?”
Amy (looks at me matter-of-factly): “He’s promising Change.”
(Amy walks away)

Last I heard, she was pursuing a Ph.D. in Women’s Studies. No joke.

You should have seen the reaction I got from my teachers and peers the previous year when I proposed that the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill fiasco was largely because of Thomas’ political views. I thought I was going to have to go into hiding.

JimLennon on February 18, 2014 at 3:33 PM

From wiki:

In January 2001, Reynolds was hired by Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/Push Coalition to decrease the number of young blacks going to prison

If that doesn’t tell us a lot about Reynolds and Jesse Jackson, I don’t know what does.

RUexperienced on February 18, 2014 at 3:51 PM

As I wrote at the time, redemption is always a possibility, but a position of public trust isn’t the measure of it, nor the required reward.

Mark Sanford as well?

Dr. ZhivBlago on February 18, 2014 at 4:30 PM

The Herald reported Reynolds entered Zimbabwe last year, purporting to be a middleman for foreign investors in the tourism industry.

So who was he working for?

kcewa on February 18, 2014 at 4:35 PM

The perfect face of Democrat politics! Black; Chicago; Liberal; Crooked; Perverted; Greedy. What did I leave out? Yes, there are some redundant terms in this; I got them from the Department of Redundancy Department. There obviously is no fear of God before this man’s eyes.

Gordy on February 18, 2014 at 8:49 PM

I suppose my earlier comment went to moderation since I included links. But there are multiple sources, including CNN and the AP that included the mans political affiliation in their story.

sweetwaterblue on February 18, 2014 at 9:07 PM

From The Obama Timeline:

As noted previously in The Obama Timeline, Reynolds played a pivotal part in Obama’s political career. Obama was elected to the Illinois State Senate in 1996. He took the seat long held by Democrat State Senator Alice Palmer (also an official of the U.S. Peace Council, an affiliate of the Soviet front group World Peace Council), who agreed to let Obama run for her state seat only if she lost her bid for U.S. Congress. By a wide margin Palmer then lost the Congressional election (a special election held in November of 1995, with Jesse Jackson, Jr., and State Senator Emil Jones finishing ahead of her), but Obama reneged on his agreement and worked with his lawyers to get Palmer and three other opponents (Mark Ewell, Gha-is Askia, and Ulmer Lynch) removed from the primary ballot on technicalities, in order to insure an opponent-free victory. On January 2, 1996, a group of Obama operatives descended on the offices of the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners to challenge, one by one, all the signatures on the nominating petitions of all of Obama’s challengers. They do not stop until Obama’s was the sole name on the ballot. The Congressional seat Alice Palmer attempted to win had been held by disgraced Congressman Mel (‘I won the Lotto’) Reynolds, who was sentenced to seven years in jail for having sex with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer. It was his resignation that prompted the special election in November 1995.

Reynolds’ sentence was later commuted by Bill Clinton, perhaps because of a special affinity for elected officials who have sex with young campaign workers. After leaving prison in early 2001, Reynolds was hired by Reverend James Meeks to work at his Salem Baptist Church in Chicago. Reynolds also worked with Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition/Operation PUSH organization as a youth counselor—an arguably unlikely position for someone who served prison time for sex with a minor. Palmer was popular among the district’s voters, but her fate was sealed when Jesse Jackson Jr. also decided to run for the seat. That explains some of the animosity between Obama and Jesse Jackson. Had Jackson’s son not entered the Congressional race Alice Palmer would have won and Obama would not have had to resort to signature challenges to get the popular incumbent Palmer off the State Senate ballot. The main animosity, of course, was that Obama won the White House, which Jackson failed to win because he was considered too radical—even though Obama is exponentially more radical than Jackson ever was. (Jesse Jackson, Jr., of course, also ended up in prison. Whether that congressional district is bad luck or its voters are incredibly poor judges of character is not known for certain. Nor is it known whether Obama will follow in the footsteps of Reynolds and Jackson and someday land in the hoosegow.)

Colony14 on February 18, 2014 at 10:30 PM

The perfect face of Democrat politics! Black; Chicago; Liberal; Crooked; Perverted; Greedy. What did I leave out?

Gordy on February 18, 2014 at 8:49 PM


Buttercup on February 19, 2014 at 11:42 AM

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