Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., who is facing a primary challenge from former U.S. congresswoman Debbie Halvorson, may also face a new ethics investigation tied to a campaign donor’s purchase of an airline ticket for a woman with whom Jackson was conducting an extramarital affair.
In an appearance with Halvorson before the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board earlier this week, the lawmaker said that he believes he didn’t break House rules because the ticket wasn’t purchased for him, although he did ask Raghuveer Nayak to buy it.
“[It was] not a personal benefit to me, I don’t believe, under the House rules,” said Jackson, adding, “He didn’t buy tickets for me. Did I direct him? I did.”
The congressman contends that the purchase was “a friendly gesture” by “a close and dear” family friend.
Nayak also is involved in an investigation into whether Jackson violated House rules by offering to pay former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich for the Senate seat vacated by President Obama. Jackson has from the start maintained his innocence, but according to the Tribune, Nayak has told investigators that Jackson asked him to raise money for Blagojevich. In addition, the Office of Congressional Ethics announced last summer that it had found “substantial reason to believe” that Jackson had broken the rules and in December said it was still gathering information.
Throughout her primary challenge, Halvorson has argued that the investigation is preventing Jackson from doing his job and that he is not fit to serve the district.
The ethics panel has not yet announced plans to investigate the ticket matter, but in a statement Jackson said that he assumes it will look into all matters and that he’s “confident that in the end I will be vindicated.”
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