Blagojevich Brother Says Jackson Was Behind Senate Seat Scheme | NBC Chicago
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Blagojevich Brother Says Jackson Was Behind Senate Seat Scheme

Because he had access to trial discovery in the case, Robert Blagojevich said he read the FBI's interview report of interviews with everyone, including Jesse Jackson Jr.

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    A day before Jesse Jackson Jr.’s awaited release from prison, the brother of former Gov. Rod Blagojevich says he doesn’t understand why Jackson Jr. was never charged with trying to buy Obama’s senate seat. (Published Wednesday, March 25, 2015)

    Jesse Jackson Jr., who was released from prison Thursday morning, famously said after he admitted to and was convicted of improperly using campaign funds to the tune of $750,000, that he "manned up."

    At least one person was not impressed with Jackson's manly declaration, though: Robert Blagojevich. 

    "I ask you, when are you going to man up about trying to buy the Senate seat that was vacated by Barack Obama?" says Robert Blagojevich, brother of the ex-governor. In saying that, he says he believes the former congressman has eluded questions about the biggest questions the governor faced.

    Blagojevich, of course, faced charges with his brother in a first round of indictments in the fall of 2008. But after a jury hung on the charges against Robert, he was dismissed from the case, the government opting not to try him again in a drama where he had impressed observers as stunningly truthful on the witness stand.

    It was clear that prosecutors felt the gambit with the elder Blagojevich had backfired, that he had hurt their case against the governor, and they wanted no part of including him when they put the more famous Blagojevich on trial a second time.

    But it was Robert Blagojevich, when working as a campaign fundraiser for his governor brother, who had been party to conversations where a group of Indian businessmen offered big money -- as much as $6 million in campaign contributions -- if Rod Blagojevich made Jesse Jackson Jr. a senator.

    Because he had access to trial discovery in the case, Robert Blagojevich said he read the FBI reports, known as 302s, of interviews with everyone, including Jackson himself.

    He said from reading those reports, it was clear to him that Jackson was behind the campaign overture.

    "I strongly believe that," he said. "No doubt about it."

    If that was the case, the question, of course, is why Jackson was never charged. It's a question Blagojevich said he would like answers to as well, especially now that the former congressman is leaving prison, while the ex-governor remains behind bars.

    "Do I think that somehow he was protected from further investigation because there was enough information there to pursue him? Yes!" Blagojevich said.

    In 2012, Blagojevich offered testimony for the House Ethics Committee investigating Jackson.

    "I have information I think will help them find the truth," he said at the time. "Based on what I know, I believe Jesse Jackson Jr. has a lot of unanswered questions."

    Jackson had always denied involvement in the Senate scheme, and was never forced to answer those questions from House investigators. Citing health problems and with ethics issues swirling, he resigned his seat in November 2012, 16 days after being re-elected to another term.


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