Report: Jesse Jackson Jr. is "Senate Candidate 5"

The son of the civil rights leader may indeed be the candidate with an ally who discussed "pay-for-play;" he says he's "not a target of this investigation," though.

By Alex Koppelman
December 10, 2008 9:50PM (UTC)
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As I noted Tuesday, there were some hints in the government's complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich that one of the unnamed contenders for President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat, "Senate Candidate 5," was really Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.). Well, now ABC News has apparently confirmed that Jackson is indeed the anonymous candidate.

ABC's Brian Ross sources his report to unnamed "federal law enforcement sources," and notes that Jackson was contacted by federal prosecutors on Tuesday. The son of the civil rights leader said prosecutors "asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process." Jackson doesn't know if he is in fact "Senate Candidate 5," Ross reports, but says he was told he is not a target of the investigation. 


Out of all the unnamed possible successors to Obama, it's Candidate 5 who might be the most intriguing, due to some information the government included in the complaint:

In a recorded conversation on October 31, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH described an earlier approach by an associate of Senate Candidate Five as follows: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (Senate Candidate 5) a Senator." ...

ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided ROD BLAGOJEVICH with something “tangible up front.”

Jackson told ABC he'll be meeting with prosecutors "as soon as possible," after consulting with legal counsel. And, he said, "It is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo or any payments or offers. An impossiblity to an absolute certainty."

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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