Jesse Jackson Jr. spent money on elk heads, Michael Jackson fedora

The former Congressman pleaded guilty to misusing about $750,000 in campaign funds

By Jillian Rayfield

Published February 21, 2013 2:24PM (EST)

On what did former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. spend $750,000 in misused campaign funds? According to the Chicago Tribune, the answers range from the luxurious to the bizarre, including "a holistic retreat, a cruise, pricey restaurant tabs, flat-screen televisions and even a pair of stuffed elk heads."

"These expenditures included high-end electronic items, collector's items, clothing, food and supplies for daily consumption, movie tickets, health club dues, personal travel, and personal dining expenses," said prosecutors.

The charges included: Michael Jackson's fedora, Eddie Van Halen's guitar, and a football with the signatures of U.S. presidents. Jackson spent $10,000 at Best Buy, $5,687 at Martha's Vineyard, over $60,000 at restaurants and clubs and $17,000 on cigars and other tobacco products.

He even used campaign funds to take two trips to the Build-A-Bear Workshop.

But perhaps the strangest purchase involved two mounted elk heads. From the Tribune:

In a transaction arranged by Person A, a onetime campaign treasurer, campaign funds were used to pay a taxidermist in Montana $7,058 for two mounted elk heads that were shipped to Jackson's congressional office in Washington. But a year later, with the federal investigation brewing, Person A tried to sell the heads, prosecutors said.

With federal investigators already watching, the move led to an FBI sting operation where an undercover employee of the FBI posing as an interior designer offered to buy the heads at a loss. Prosecutors said $5,300 was wired to Jackson's personal bank account.

On Wednesday, Jackson, a Democrat from Illinois, pleaded guilty to the charges, and now faces up to five years in prison.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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2012 Elections Campaign Finance Chicago Democrats Illinois Jesse Jackson Jr. Michael Jackson