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KANKAKEE, Ill. (AP) – U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is predicting he’ll be “vindicated” by an ethics investigation into whether he or someone on his behalf offered to raise funds for ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in return for an appointment to President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.
“Let me be clear. I believe in the American system of justice,” Jackson, a Democrat, said Saturday at a Kankakee County NAACP dinner. “The process is continuing, but in the end I believe I will be vindicated.”
The House Ethics Committee announced earlier this month that it would resume a probe that began before Blagojevich’s trial. The panel had agreed to abide by a Justice Department request to take no action in the investigation, which is normal practice when the department is concerned a congressional inquiry interferes with its own investigation.
Former Congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, who is challenging Jackson, says the incumbent’s credibility is shot.
“It’s a shame that with his distractions he’s spending more time with lawyers than with his constituents,” Halvorson said after a groundbreaking event Sunday.
Jackson, who has not been charged, has repeatedly denied wrongdoing.
The congressman has acknowledged he was “Senate Candidate A” in the Blagojevich criminal complaint, one of several candidates whom authorities say the former governor considered for the Senate seat.
In June, jurors at Blagojevich’s retrial convicted him on 17 of 20 corruption counts, including trying to sell the Senate seat. He is awaiting sentencing. Related charges against his brother, Robert Blagojevich, were dropped after the first corruption trial last year.
Last week the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Robert Blagojevich, a Tennessee businessman, wants to testify before the House committee. He told the newspaper that he had written to committee members offering testimony and that Jackson needs to answer questions.
Trial witnesses have alleged Jackson supporters offered fundraising for the governor if Jackson became senator. Jackson testified at Blagojevich’s retrial that he “never directed anyone to raise money for another politician.”
Jackson is seeking re-election in the newly-drawn 2nd Congressional District.
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