Governor Rod Blagojevich may officially be out of politics, but the man is still a power player in Illinois.
Just ask recently declared senate candidate Cheryle Jackson.
Not one week passed since the Chicago Urban League chief announced her intention to seek the seat that once belonged to Barack Obama before she was linked to Blago in a shady deal with the Loop Lab School, according to an article in the Sun-Times.
In January 2006 Governor Rod made a televised promise to give $1 million to Pilgrim Baptist Church, a fire damaged landmark in Bronzeville. But instead of helping out the beleaguered church, the money went to a private school with political connections that rented space from the church a Sun-Time investigation found.
At the time, Jackson, who once served as Blagojevich’s communications deputy chief, was no longer on staff, but a Sun-Times investigation of intra-staff emails reveals that she was still very much involved in the deal.
"Cheryle Jackson ... indicated that Loop Lab School -- an entity that leased space from the Church -- would be the actual recipient" of the money, then-Blagojevich deputy chief of staff Kristin Richards wrote, the Sun-Times reports.
Jackson denies her involvement and says Richards made up the assertion.
"I did not direct the grant to Loop Lab School," Jackson told the Sun-Times. "It's not true … It's either a faulty kind of remembrance, or it's a self-serving recollection of what really happened. You have to remember, by the time these statements were made by Kristin, it was after I left the administration.
"I was probably the most high-profile Democrat who opposed the gross-receipts tax, which was a centerpiece of the administration's [budget] proposal. And I sued the governor with the education lawsuit. It doesn't surprise me that someone could have made up a story about me and others who left the administration, particularly to serve their own interests."
Regardless of the veracity of the emails, Jackson has been linked to a shady Blago deal right out of the political gates. She could be yet another politician who can’t wash away the stink of Blagojevich.
Roland Burris is currently dealing with said odor. The man who was appointed as a U.S. Senator amid the cash-for-favors deal can’t even contemplate an actual run at the seat because no one will donate to his tainted campaign.
Jesse Jackson Jr., once a political meteor who should have been able to challenge for the senate seat in 2010 will have to sit it out while his ties to Blagojevich simmer down. Jackson Jr. was listed as candidate No. 5 in the Blagojevich criminal complaint that accused politicians of ponying up cash for the chance at a seat in the U.S. Senate.
Chicago multimillionaire Blair Hull was also implicated in the cash for senate seat flap.
The list goes on, and it will likely continue to prosecutors beef up the case against Blago over the next few months.
Will Jackson be able to distance herself from her former boss long enough to last in the race? Only time will tell.