Former Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. has pleaded guilty to using political campaign funds to support a lavish lifestyle. Between 2005 and 2012, Jackson Jr. and his wife conspired to siphon off an impressive $750,000. The Chicago Tribune reports:
Prosecutors said $60,000 was spent on restaurants, nightclubs and lounges; $31,700 on personal airfare; $16,000 on sports clubs and lounges; $17,000 on tobacco shops; $5,800 on alcohol; $14,500 on dry cleaning; $8,000 on grocery stores and $6,000 at drug stores.
About 3,100 personal purchases were made on campaign credit cards, totaling $582,772.58, prosecutors said.
“Sir, for years I lived in my campaign,” Jackson Jr. told U.S. District Judge Robert Wilkins. “I used monies that should have been used for campaign purposes, and I used them for myself personally, to benefit me personally. And I am acknowledging that that which the government has presented is accurate.”
We hope the judge remembers when sentencing that the chief victims of Jackson’s crimes are are less the fat cat donors whose money he misappropriated but the poor, defenseless people who need effective legislative representation—representation that he was too busy feathering his nest, cozying up to donors and rolling in unearned privilege to provide.
We’ve learned not to expect moral outrage from the left when the representatives of deeply crooked and solidly entrenched big city political machines betray their constituents and the public trust. But these crimes are genuinely despicable; Jackson has brought unspeakable shame on his family and himself. He should do serious time in jail, both because his crimes are so destructive and as a terrifying example to others.
No human being can look at another in trouble without some sense of sympathy; every story like that of the Jacksons is a human tragedy, whatever else it may be. But justice has a duty to the victims as well as the perpetrators, and there is plenty of evidence today that our political class needs some sharp reminders that even famous and powerful people who betray the poor must fear retributive justice.
It would be nice to hear some sharp moral condemnation from the President of the United States of this unprincipled criminality, but we almost certainly won’t. When it comes to moral leadership against the crime wave of Democratic elected officials pillaging the poor in one city after another, this President is tongue tied. History will remember that silence, and it won’t be kind. The struggle against crooked big-city politicians is a vital part of today’s real struggle to help the poor. The President’s deafening silence betrays poor black Americans who need him to have the courage and the honesty to speak up in their name.