Jeff Smith: Where’s Jesse Jackson, Jr.?

When your leading fundraiser – and the guy who allegedly offered to raise Blago $1.5M in exchange for your appointment to a vacant U.S. Senate seat – faces a 19-count indictment, and has already shown in other cases (Blago’s two trials) a willingness to flip and testify for the Feds, I can understand how the stress might trigger serious physical problems.

Having had my own top fundraiser and best friend wear a wire on me for months as the Feds closed in, I am, regrettably, all too familiar with this plight.

I have no idea what’s going on with JJJ mentally or physically. But for me, when the feds started sniffing around, and you realize that they have unlimited resources at their disposal and tremendous leverage over your closest confidante, those were the most stressful days of my life.

The fact that even his family is saying little – and not strongly pushing back against various insinuations – suggests that there is more to this than meets the eye.

I first saw JJJ speak nearly a decade ago to an audience of rich white people at St. Louis Country Day School. Advocating policies that would raise their taxes significantly, he had them in the palm of his hand. It was shortly after I saw then-Senate candidate Barack Obama speak for the first time, and frankly, there was no comparison. JJJ was, hands down, the most impressive pol I’d ever heard.

So, I’m quite saddened by the recent turn of events, because I’ve seen how the Feds operate – been on both sides as a guy whose best friend cooperated, then, as a guy they pressed to cooperate in their quest for bigger fish (and went to prison after declining to do so). Remember, the feds didn’t pile on 19 counts against Jackson pal Nayak because they plan to put Nayak away for life; they did it for leverage. And so my gut is that it’s going to get much worse before it gets better for JJJ.

(Cross-posted, with permission of the author, from Politico’s Arena)


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