Congress is investigating Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in connection with the actions of disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is charged with trying to sell the vacated Senate seat of Barack Obama.
The House ethics panel probe centers on whether Jackson launched a "public campaign" to acquire the seat, CNN reports. The panel, however, has agreed to a request from the Justice Department to defer the investigation because of a criminal indictment against the ex-governor and "the facts surrounding Rod Blagojevich's consideration of multiple candidates to fill the Senate seat."
The House panel has agreed to steer clear of the Justice Department but will “continue to monitor the situation and will consider pursuing avenues of inquiry that it concludes do not interfere,” the Office of Congressional Ethics said in a statement.
When the ethics panel announced its preliminary investigation back in April, Jackson agreed to cooperate, saying he was "eager to answer any questions and provide any information to the OCE about my actions related to last year's vacant Senate seat."
Transcripts of recordings from Blagojevich "contain statements that an 'emissary' from Representative Jackson had offered to raise money for Blagojevich and provide 'money up-front' if Blagojevich nominated Representative Jackson to the [U.S.] Senate seat vacated by President Obama," CNN reports, citing the Justice Department report.
"If this 'emissary' acted either at the direction of Representative Jackson or with his knowledge and acquiescence, Representative Jackson may have violated federal law and House rules," the report says.
Earlier this year, Blagojevich was impeached and ousted from office. He has pleaded not guilty to federal corruption charges. A federal grand jury in April indicted him on 16 felony counts including racketeering, conspiracy, wire fraud and making false statements to investigators.