Ethics panel resumes probe of Jesse Jackson Jr.

Tribune reporter

WASHINGTON — The House Ethics Committee said today that it has resumed consideration of whether U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. acted improperly in seeking appointment to the Senate in 2008.

The committee’s review of the Chicago Democrat was temporarily on hold as federal authorities prosecuted then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Blagojevich is awaiting sentencing after being convicted on federal corruption charges, including his attempt to sell the Senate seat held by Barack Obama before his election to the White House. Prosecutors said Blagojevich angled to hand the Senate seat to Jackson in exchange for $1.5 million in donations promised by Jackson supporters. Jackson was not charged and has denied any wrongdoing.

A separate panel, the Office of Congressional Ethics, issued findings in mid-2009 citing possible violations of federal law and House rules, and referred the matter to the House Ethics Committee.

The House Ethics Committee said that on or before Dec. 2 it will make a further announcement, but House officials said that does not necessarily mean a decision on whether to clear or sanction Jackson.

Jackson had no comment, spokesman Frank Watkins said.

Democrat Debbie Halvorson, a former congresswoman running against Jackson for his seat, said Tuesday’s news was “proof that he continues to be plagued with distractions over his possible role in Rod Blagojevich’s pay-to-play scandal involving President Obama’s former Senate seat.”

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