WASHINGTON, D.C. (CBS) — When Jesse Jackson Jr. left the federal courthouse on Wednesday, facing 30 months in federal prison, it marked a turnaround some of his former colleagues never saw coming.
“When I Iast spent time with him, I would have said this is something that could never have happened, but it did,” said former U.S. Rep. John Porter.
Porter used to represent Chicago’s North Shore. He headed a house subcommittee that included Jackson, who was then a young, up-and-coming congressman.
“He had his standards in the right place,” he told CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine. “Somewhere along the line, it got lost.”
However, the current head of the Illinois congressional delegation said he saw warning signs years ago.
“You could see that he was kind of going astray from his commitment to public service,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin.
Durbin said he noticed the change over time.
“It was lifestyle. It was his personal demeanor. Things were changing.”
Judge Amy Jackson gave the former congressman less jail time than prosecutors wanted.
However, her sentence of 30 months in prison, three years of supervised release, 500 hours of community service and $750,000 in restitution is significant.
The government has moved to place liens on the Jacksons’ homes in Chicago and here in Washington.
Family members tell CBS 2 they’ll help the couple come up with the money to avoid losing either of them.
In court yesterday, Jackson, who admitted to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign funds, said: “I am an example for the whole Congress, and I understand that,”
But Porter said Congress’ image was already suffering.
“I don’t know how it could be any lower than it is now,” he said. “It is just unbelievable what has happened to our trust in institutions, particularly in Congress.”