Machine politics malfunction: Jesse Jackson Jr. wins re-election, heads for the slammer

CBS News brings us a reminder of just how crazy Chicago machine politics can get:

Just days after winning a handy reelection to his Chicago-area district, 17-year Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., D-Ill., has entered negotiations for a plea deal that would include his resignation from Congress and likely jail time.

Jackson, Jr., the son of civil rights activist Rev. Jesse Jackson, Sr., and husband to Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, has not yet pleaded guilty to alleged misuse of campaign funds to decorate his house and purchase a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. But CBS Chicago reports the congressman’s lawyer, white-collar criminal defense attorney Dan Webb, is negotiating with the federal government a plea bargain that will likely be reached by year’s end.

The tentative deal includes Jackson, Jr.’s resignation from Congress for health reasons, a “guilty” plea involving misuse of campaign funds, and repayment of any contributions that were converted to personal use. At least some jail time is expected. Jackson, Jr.’s pension, which would pay out between $65,000 and $80,000 a year when he turns 62, is also part of the talks.

(Emphases mine.)  Jackson has been largely incommunicado since June, as he was parked in the Mayo Clinic for the treatment of bipolar depression.  Some wondered if he found that criminal investigation particularly depressing.  Jackson shouldn’t be surprised, since he won his seat after his predecessor, Mel Reynolds, got bounced out of office for sexual and financial crimes, and ended up in the slammer.

And yet, Jackson was just re-elected last week, winning 63 percent of the vote!  Hopefully no one from the cesspool of Chicago politics ever rises to hold national office.  That probably wouldn’t end well.