Former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. says his family is $1.8 million in debt and it would be in everyone’s best interest to sell the couple’s Washington home, but his wife Sandi’s alleged intransigence on the issue makes that effort impossible.
“Sandra has, through her counsel and various ways indicated that they have no interest in selling that home,” Jackson said Tuesday outside the courtroom where his divorce case is being heard. “By not selling it, particularly as two unemployed people, it makes it impossible for us to settle the marital obligations and differences.”
The former congressman spoke in a Daley Center hallway, shortly after participating over the phone with a counter-proceeding in Washington D.C.
“Sandra will not return to Chicago,” Jackson said. “She’s made it clear to members of my family, and even our children, that she will not return to Chicago ever again.”
Jackson declared that the future well-being of the couple’s children is not an issue, and that he and his family are “absolutely committed” to securing their futures.
“Whether it is what I did in prison cleaning bathrooms, mopping floors, becoming a street sweeper, any other job in the society that’s available to me, I’m putting my daughter and my son through college,” Jackson said.
The one-time power couple shared a soaring political career which ended with all the makings of a Shakespearian tragedy. He served nine terms in Congress, while she was elected to two terms as a Chicago alderman. But their lives came crashing down when they pleaded guilty to charges of looting the congressman’s campaign fund of three quarters of a million dollars. Both resigned their positions. Both did time in federal prison. Now the two are divorcing each other -- he in Chicago, she in Washington D.C.
Sandi has argued in court that the couple’s true home is in Washington, and that the divorce proceeding belongs there. Her husband is fighting to keep it in Chicago.
"Sandi Jackson possesses, owns, or uses the Chicago residence as those terms are defined,” Jackson’s attorney Brendan Hammer told reporters, noting that the utility bills and real estate taxes have been paid consistently on the Chicago home, and that it is in that home where the former congressman currently resides.
"Ms. Jackson gave an interview from the South Shore residence, where she was apologizing for moving toys and trains and workout equipment out of the way,” Hammer said. “Now Ms. Jackson has nothing to do with the Chicago residence, and we just don’t believe that’s credible."
Mrs. Jackson was not present in court.
“She hasn’t responded to Congressman Jackson’s statements about their family, because her focus is on protecting her children who live in Washington but have access to all of the information and allegations Mr. Jackson is putting out there,” Ms. Jackson’s attorney Jessica Bank Interlandi told NBC5. “She’s authorized me to speak to the media because she hopes Mr. Jackson will be judicious with his statements. They serve no useful purpose.”
In the meantime, Jackson says finances are dwindling.
“Something has to give, because it’s impossible to pay two sets of lawyers in this city, another set in Washington D.C., be asked for temporary child support and alimony and mortgages that exceed $6,500 a month," he said.
Jackson spoke of the personal toll the divorce was taking.
“Short of the incarceration experience,” he said, “I don’t know of anything that’s been more taxing than this.”
For now, it does not appear there is any resolution in sight for the jurisdictional dispute which Jackson’s own lawyer noted has resulted in continuing payments to “four expensive attorneys.”.
“We are fully prepared to come to the table and operate in good faith to settle this matter,” Hammer said.