Remember “Candidate 5” from the Blagojevich carnival? And remember the Office of Congressional Ethics from attempts by Congress to add another layer to the self-policing ethics process? Well, they’re both back today as the Office of Congressional Ethics (it’s alive!) has opened a preliminary probe into Rep. Jesse “Candidate 5” Jackson, Jr.
Jackson was named as “Candidate 5” in the criminal complaint filed earlier in the year against former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, but he is now known as “Candidate A” in the official indictment against the former governor.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times:
The panel has asked parties in the Blagojevich case — including his former gubernatorial staff and campaign staff — to turn over any documents, e-mails, or other correspondence involving Jackson Jr. and his campaign staff; Jackson’s brother, Jonathan, and political fund-raisers Raghuveer Nayak and Rajinder Bedi, lawyers close to the probe told the Sun-Times. The request for information is from June of last year through Dec. 31, 2008.
Nayak, Bedi and Jonathan Jackson attended a Dec. 6 fund-raiser hosted by the Indian community for Friends of Blagojevich. People attending the event have told the Sun-Times that discussions about future fund-raising for Rep. Jackson’s Senate candidacy took place at the function. The ex-governor was arrested three days later on accusations that he tried to sell the Senate seat appointment, among other charges.
The Office of Congressional Ethics can only refer cases to the House Ethics Committee to review further, it cannot issue results from investigations itself. While this fairly inadequate, it is better than the current situation whereby a sitting member of the House must file an ethics complaint against another lawmaker with the House Ethics Committee. Due to fears of retaliation, this would never happen.