WASHINGTON — As former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. awaits sentencing for looting his campaign treasury of more than $750,000, a Texas congresswoman has asked the judge in Jackson's case to consider "all the anguish he has experienced committing these acts in the harsh light of public scrutiny and national notoriety."
In her letter released Monday, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, also wrote: "While the charges against him are very serious, it is important that we acknowledge the whole of his life, and how despite all efforts he will never be able to entirely reclaim his former life and reputation."
Jackson and his wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, will be sentenced July 1. He spent the money on furs, vacations and celebrity memorabilia, including a Michael Jackson fedora. She failed to report about $600,000 in income on her tax return. Both pleaded guilty.
Johnson wrote that she was "appalled and saddened" when she read media accounts of the charges against Jackson Jr. and that he had abused the public trust. She also wrote that she had known him for 15 years and that he worked hard during his time in Congress.
Johnson's letter, written last month to U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson, was among 14 made public Monday. Twelve came from relatives of Sandi Jackson, many asking that she be shown leniency and placed on probation because of the couple's children, ages 12 and 9.
Under sentencing guidelines, Jackson Jr. faces 46 to 57 months in prison, and his wife faces one to two years in prison. Unlike the first batch of letters that Judge Jackson made public, those in the group released Monday are all positive about the defendants.
Sandi Jackson's relatives portrayed her as a beautiful, inspirational person and God-fearing woman who would never stray again. An aunt called her a "loving, caring and giving individual" who gave her family members the "knowledge that they can do whatever they set out to do in life."
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