Who Got a Rawer Deal, Rod Blagojevich or Jesse Jackson Jr.?

Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich reported to the Englewood Federal Correctional Center in Colorado exactly one year ago today. According to Ward Room’s famous Blago Countdown Clock, which calculates that the governor will be released from prison on May 23, 2024, Blagojevich has 4,086 days left to serve in his sentence.

To determine whether he received a fair punishment, let’s do some math and compare Blagojevich’s sentence to the sentence former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is likely to receive, on a dollars stolen-for-dollars stolen basis.

Junior embezzled $750,000 from his campaign funds, money he used to buy watches, jewelry, fur coats and Bruce Lee memorabilia, as well as pay for personal expenses such as dry cleaning. He is expected to receive a sentence of between 46 and 57 months. Even if he receives the maximum, he’ll serve one month for every $13,157.89 he stole. Or $433.52 a day, if you prefer to calculate it that way.

As for Blagojevich, he stole -- well, he didn’t actually steal any money. Junior offered to raise $5 million for Blago in exchange for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat, but that was in campaign cash.

There was no evidence that Blago planned to spend the money on, say, a football signed by all the living ex-presidents. Although he could have used it. The vain governor and his first lady had spent $400,000 on clothes during his six years in office. As a result of such profligacy, their house was falling apart from disrepair. As the Tribune’s Mary Schmich wrote, “The roof needed repairs. The paint on the windowsills was cracked. The lawn was tired.”
So how much would Blagojevich have had to steal to make his 14-year-sentence worth it? Using the Jackson standard of $13,157.89 a month, the answer is $2,210,525.52. So, if Jackson had actually raised $5 million, Blago should have kept just under half.
Instead, Blago got 14 years just for talking about raising $5 million. I’m not sure what the going rate is for that.
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