Fallout from the indictment of Rod Blagojevich continues. Although “Candidate A” never gets identified in court papers, everyone understood it to mean Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Now Fox News reports that the House Ethics Committee may launch an investigation of Jackson’s role in The Blagojevich Enterprise, as Patrick Fitzgerald dubbed the corruption cabal:
The Fox report comes from a Chicago Sun-Times exclusive from yesterday:
A congressional ethics board has launched a preliminary inquiry into U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), related to President Obama’s vacant Senate seat and the corruption investigation of ousted Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the Chicago Sun-Times has learned.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, formed just last year, voted in late March to conduct a “preliminary review” of actions surrounding Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the Senate seat, according to documents released to parties involved in the probe. The revelation means Jackson is the second member of the Illinois delegation undergoing an ethical review related to the Blagojevich scandal. The U.S. Senate ethics committee is investigating U.S. Sen. Roland Burris. …
The panel has asked parties in the Blagojevich case — including his former gubernatorial staff and campaign staff — to turn over any documents, e-mails, or other correspondence involving Jackson Jr. and his campaign staff; Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, and political fund-raisers Raghuveer Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, lawyers close to the probe told the Sun-Times. The request for information is from June of last year through Dec. 31, 2008.
Nayak, Bedi and Jonathan Jackson attended a Dec. 6 fund-raiser hosted by the Indian community for Friends of Blagojevich. People attending the event have told the Sun-Times that discussions about future fund-raising for Rep. Jackson’s Senate candidacy took place at the function. The ex-governor was arrested three days later on accusations that he tried to sell the Senate seat appointment, among other charges.
The fundraiser in December looked like quid pro quo to the feds and may have prompted the arrest of Blagojevich the next day. Fitzgerald wanted to act before Blagojevich had a chance to make the appointment, as the Illinois governor has plenary and complete authority to select Barack Obama’s replacement. Once Blagojevich made the pick, all the charges in the world could not prevent the appointment from proceeding — as we all learned afterwards, when Illinois Democrats fought to have Blagojevich keep that power, which he used to appoint Burris.
The move by Nancy Pelosi comes as a bit of a surprise. She’s been pushing off a probe into PMA and its beneficiaries in the House, mainly (but not exclusively) Democrats, such as John Murtha and Pete Visclosky. With Pelosi in stonewall mode on ethics probes, one might have bet that she would fall back on the excuse of staying out of the federal prosecution of Blagojevich et al.
What changed her mind? The decision came before the grand jury handed Fitzgerald his Blagomas. Maybe the corruption is so bad that Pelosi sees the best way out of the stink is to start the fumigation herself. If so, expect some serious fireworks in the coming weeks about Jackson and his ties to the Blagojevich Enterprise.