Jesse Jackson Jr. Denies Allegations He Offered to Raise Money for Blagojevich
Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. denied allegations on Tuesday that he offered to raise millions of dollars in campaign financing for former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for an appointment to the Senate seat then being vacated by President Obama.
He also apologized in reference to reports surrounding his interactions with a female "social acquaintance," which he called a "private and personal matter."
According to a report by the Chicago Sun-Times, Raghuveer Nayak, an Oak Brook businessman who had done campaign fundraising for both Blagojevich and Jackson, said that in 2008 Jackson directed him to tell Blagojevich that he would donate a combined $6 million in political contributions if appointed Mr. Obama's Senate seat.
Jackson called the allegations "preposterous," according to a statement obtained by CBS News, and noted that the assertions were not new. "I've already talked with the authorities about these claims, told them they were false, and no charges have been brought against me," Jackson said in the statement.
"The very idea of raising millions of dollars for a campaign other than my own is preposterous. My interest in the Senate seat was based on years of public service, which I am proud of, not some improper scheme with anyone," Jackson said.
Nayak also told authorities that, per Jackson's request, he twice paid for a female "social acquaintance" of Jackson's, the Washington-based restaurant hostess Giovana Huidobro, to fly to Chicago, according to the Sun-Times.
"The reference to a social acquaintance is a private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago. I ask that you respect our privacy," Jackson said. "I know I have disappointed some supporters, and for that I am deeply sorry. But I remain committed to serving my constituents and fighting on their behalf."
Jackson's wife, alderman Sandi Jackson, said in a statement that the information regarding her husband's acquaintance had been "a very private, painful and unfortunate situation" that "my family and I have been privately addressing for several months."
Both Jesse and Sandi Jackson are thought to be considering a bid in the Chicago mayoral race, although Sandi recently downplayed the possibility of her own entrance.
Jackson Jr., who has been meeting with a variety of potential contenders for the position - including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel - recently said during a radio interview that prosecutors with any evidence of his wrongdoing regarding the Blagojevich case should "bring it on."
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