Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. says he didn't know former Gov. Rod Blagojevich had a brother until Blagojevich was indicted, and therefore couldn't have been working with the brother on a backroom deal for Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat.
"I have said from the beginning that I publicly and transparently sought [the appointment]," Jackson writes in an op-ed piece published in a few Illinois newspapers this week. "I did nothing illegal, unethical or inappropriate."
Still, a Congressional Ethics Committee last week announced it would continue investigating allegations Jackson sent emissaries to offer campaign cash in exchange for the seat, and prior to sentencing Blagojevich to 14 years in prison on Wednesday, Judge James Zagel himself said he believed there was an offer on the table.
In a television interview from Nashville, Blagojevich's brother, Robert Blagojevich, reiterated a charge that he was approached by two people wanting to work out a deal.
"I saw the inappropriateness of that and told them, emphatically, 'No,'" he said.
Robert Blagojevich last week said he'd sent a letter to the House Ethics Committee offering to testify against Jackson.
Reporters seeking Jackson's reaction to Blagojevich's sentence and Zagel's charge first had to chase Jackson's SUV as it sped away from them as he arrived at a Thursday evening press event with letter carriers.
"I'm going to be commenting on matters that affect the postal workers," he said when reporters caught up with him.
He did, but began with the Blagojevich controversy.
"His misconduct tarnished our state," Jackson told those gathered to denounce recent proposals by the United States Postal Service to slash service.
Afterward, Jackson was again greeted by reporters.
"No one is shouting with glee [and] excitement about what has happened and what has transpired, and so during this holiday season, I think all of us have a lot to be thankful for, but also a lot to be reflective of as we try to conduct the peoples' business with the highest level of dignity," he said.
Jackson refused to comment on Zagel's remarks, pointing instead to his published essay.
Asked about the ongoing ethics investigation, Jackson said he was "very confident" that he will ultimately be vindicated.