Reporting Jay Levine
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CHICAGO (CBS) – A former U.S. attorney representing embattled Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is negotiating a plea deal with the federal government, CBS 2 has learned.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine has the exclusive details.
The plea deal would end Jackson’s 17-year career as a congressman representing Chicago’s South Side and suburbs.
At the center of negotiations is white-collar criminal defense attorney Dan Webb, who served as Chicago’s top federal prosecutor in the 1980s, when several Cook County judges were indicted for public corruption under the “Operation Greylord” investigation.
Webb, the chairman of Winston & Strawn LLP in Chicago, has been the point person for Jackson in talks with the U.S. Justice Department in Washington.
The tentative deal includes:
–Jackson resigning for health reasons.
–His pleading guilty to charges involving misuse of campaign funds.
–The congressman’s repayment of any contributions that were converted to personal use, such as home furnishings, improper travel or gifts.
At least some jail time would appear to be inevitable for Jackson, the son of civil-rights icon Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and spouse of Chicago 7th Ward Ald. Sandi Jackson.
Webb was also involved in the high-profile political plea deal for the late Dan Rostenkowski, who pleaded guilty to converting a congressional postage allowance into cash for himself. Rostenkowski got 17 months in jail but kept his $126,000-a-year pension for the rest of his life.
The onetime chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee died two years ago.
Jackson’s pension for 17 years in Congress would be between 65,000 and $80,000 a year, plus health benefits. But he’s only 47 and won’t be eligible for pension payouts until 62.
Jackson’s pension is also part of the current negotiations.
The Congressman is currently being treated for a bi-polar disorder, both at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and as an outpatient at his home in Washington. He has been on medical leave since June and did not campaign in-person to be re-elected to his 2nd Congressional District seat. He won his bid Nov. 6.
Those who have seen and spoken with Jackson say there are serious doubts as to whether health issues would ever permit his return to Congress.
As for a timetable for the agreement, a source familiar with those negotiations said as soon as possible and probably by the end of the year.
Webb, reached Friday, had no comment.
If Jackson resigns, as expected, a special election will determine his successor. Jackson himself replaced the disgraced U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds in 1995.
CBS 2 Political Producer Ed Marshall contributed to this report.