Jackson Acknowledges Ethics Investigation

Posted April 8, 2009 at 9:55am

Updated: 7:12 P.M.

The Office of Congressional Ethics has opened a probe into Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) focused on his ties to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) and allegations of a play-to-pay scheme to fill the state’s vacant Senate seat, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Tuesday.

According to the Sun-Times, the OCE voted in late March to open a preliminary inquiry into Jackson’s bid to be appointed to the Senate.

In a statement released Wednesday, Jackson confirmed the OCE is investigating and reasserted he has done nothing wrong.

“As I said when the Blagojevich scandal first broke back in December, I have done nothing wrong and reject pay-to-play politics,— Jackson said in a statement, according to The Associated Press. “I’m confident that this new ethics office — which I voted in favor of creating — will be able to conduct a fair and expeditious review and dismiss this matter.—

The OCE, established by House lawmakers in early 2008, is tasked with reviewing and recommending potential ethics violations to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

Under its internal rules, the OCE investigates allegations in a two-stage process. The first step includes a preliminary review that lasts 30 days and may be followed by a second-phase review of up to 59 days.

At the end of the second review, the OCE must recommend to the full ethics committee whether it should initiate its own investigation or dismiss the matter.

According to the Sun-Times, the OCE has requested documents dating from June to December 2008 from Blagojevich’s former gubernatorial and campaign staff. These include e-mails or other correspondence involving Jackson or his campaign staff, as well as the House lawmaker’s brother, Jonathan.

The OCE does not comment on whether it has opened an investigation.