Robert Blagojevich: Feds Should Charge Jesse Jackson, Jr. With Bribery

Barbara Hollingsworth | August 15, 2013 | 12:48pm EDT
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Former Illinois Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) (AP photo)

( – Robert Blagojevich, the elder brother of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, says that former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) should be charged with bribery for sending two emissaries to him in 2008 and offering to contribute $6 million to his brother's campaign in exchange for naming the Illinois congressman to Barack Obama’s old Senate seat.

“Jackson should have been indicted instead of me. He’s the one who started it all,” Robert Blagojevich said in a phone interview with one day before the former congressman was sentenced to 2.5 years in federal prison on unrelated charges.

“I would reiterate that the Rev. [Jesse] Jackson, [Sr.] said he was proud that his son was taking responsibility for what he did, stealing money from his campaign fund. And I ask former Congressman Jackson to take responsibility for the actions he set in motion by sending two emissaries to try to bribe us – which was emphatically rebuffed and rejected by me,” Robert Blagojevich said.

When asked whether he thinks Jackson, Jr. should be charged with bribery, Robert Blagojevich replied: “Absolutely, yes, which is why I’m saying he should come clean.”

In February, Jackson Jr. admitted stealing $750,000 from his campaign fund and spending it on personal items, including a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman told the disgraced former congressman that he was expected to "live up to a higher standard of ethics and integrity” while handing him a 30-month sentence.

Robert Blagojevich, who was indicted but not convicted in the Illinois Senate seat scandal, told the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday that it was time Jackson Jr. “come clean.” for allegedly attempting to bribe him and his brother.

“To me, there’s something wrong with the system when a man steals $750,000 from his contributors and is only facing four years,” Robert Blagojevich was quoted as saying. Jackson’s 2.5 -year sentence is about half what the former congressman, once considered a possible presidential contender, could have received under federal sentencing guidelines.

Meanwhile, Blagojevich’s brother Rod, who was convicted in 2011 on 18 counts of wire fraud, extortion, bribery and attempting to sell Obama’s old Senate seat after two highly publicized trials, is currently serving a 14-year sentence in a federal prison in Colorado.

Former Ill. Gov. Rod Blagojevich in June 2011, before being sentenced to 14 years in federal prison. (AP)

The former governor filed an appeal last month, claiming that “the government’s evidence merely established that an illegal offer was made to Blagojevich, but never accepted.”

Referring to court documents his legal team had access to during discovery in his own trial, Robert Blagojevich said that it became “very clear to me that the two guys who came to bribe me” [Raghuveer Nayak and Rajinder Bedi] had Jackson, Jr.’s “blessing,” and that they were “emboldened and supported by the former congressman.”

In 2010, the Sun-Times reported that Nayak, a local businessman and family friend of the Jacksons, told federal investigators “that Jackson [Jr.] asked him to tell Blagojevich that if the then-governor appointed Jackson to the U.S. Senate, Chicago’s Indian community would raise $1 million for Blagojevich and – after Jackson was appointed – Jackson would raise $5 million for the then-governor.”

Jackson Jr. was never charged with bribery due to “selective prosecution” by then U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Robert Blagojevich told “All I was told by the lawyers is that Nayak and Bedi were not ‘credible’ witnesses. But they were credible enough to get me indicted.”

“Bedi testified at my trial, and my lawyer got him to say not once, not twice, but three times that I turned [the attempted bribe] down and moved on. It’s very clear he did not get past me,” Robert Blagojevich added. “But who put him up to it? The ringleader should have been held accountable.”

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