Reporting Regine Schlesinger
Updated 02/27/13 – 11:47 a.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. is reportedly writing a memoir in an effort to clean up his image, but the publicist who helped another disgraced Illinois politician get a book deal said Jackson’s book could be a tough sell.
“Had he not been accused of a crime, and now … pled guilty to a crime, there might have been a market for a book from him. But now he’s tainted. It’s going to be tough,” said publicist Glenn Selig, who helped former Gov. Rod Blagojevich get his book The Governor published before he was convicted of corruption charges.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Jackson has been writing a memoir to “clear up his legacy,” amid his guilty plea to improperly using $750,000 in campaign funds for personal purchase – including a Rolex watch, celebrity memorabilia, vacations, stuffed elk heads, jewelry, electronics, and more.
Selig told WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger there’s a big difference between the two disgraced politicians.
At the time Blagojevich was writing his book The Governor, he had yet to be tried and was vehemently declaring his innocence, whereas Jackson has admitted he’s guilty.
“It’s going to be a very, very tough sell; and publishers don’t want to associate with people who are guilty,” Selig said. “It’s very, very tough to get people to buy a book when the vast majority of people believe that you’re guilty, and in this case he’s [Jackson has] already admitted that he’s guilty.”
Selig said Blagojevich’s book didn’t sell well, despite being published before he was tried and convicted of corruption charges.
Better Government Association President and CEO Andy Shaw said a Jackson book would serve a dual purpose for him and his wife, former Ald. Sandi Jackson.
“They’ll lose their pensions, they now have no actual income; and so, like many others, you write a memoir in hopes of making some money, and perhaps setting the record straight, because he obviously leaves public service in a state of absolute humiliation,” he said. “He is going to need money to continue on after he and, presumably, his wife serve prison terms.”
Shaw said Jackson likely wants to highlight his accomplishments in Congress, so the campaign fund scandal doesn’t define his legacy.
According to Selig, one thing that could work in Jackson’s favor in seeking a book deal is there is much still of his story that no one knows.
“What he was doing for all those months we never heard from him. Growing up under … having such a famous dad,” he said.
Also, unlike Blagojevich, Jackson has not been overexposed to the public amid his legal ordeal. Before his removal from office and his federal corruption trial, Blagojevich went on repeated media blitzes, doing interviews on TV and radio talk shows to proclaim his innocence. Jackson, however, has been almost completely out of sight since taking a leave of absence from Congress last summer.
“There’s so much of this story that people have not heard. He has not done any interviews,” Selig said.
Although a Jackson memoir could make for an interesting story to tell, Selig said he expects publishers won’t want to touch the book, given his conviction in federal court.