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.