Funny business in Jesse Jackson Jr. sentencing?

Was there a legitimate reason to delay the sentencing of Jesse Jackson Jr.? Photo: AP

CHICAGO, July 3, 2013 ― Sentencing for disgraced former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife Sandi has been delayed, but the question is, why? Is there a legitimate reason for the delay, or is something else going on behind-the-scenes?

U.S. District Judge Amy Berman-Jackson posted a note on the court’s docket stating that Wednesday’s hearing for the Jacksons would be delayed to “accommodate the court.” She said it was not requested by the couple’s attorneys.  

The sentencing date has been reset for August 14.

The son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges earlier this year and misusing $750,000 in campaign funds to bankroll a spending spree that included purchases such as a gold-plated Rolex watch, Michael Jackson memorabilia, fur capes, mounted elk heads and other unusual items. The Illinois congressman’s wife, Sandi, has also pled guilty to filing false joint tax returns.

Noted defense attorney Joel Brodsky says that such delays in sentencing are not unusual.

“It’s not uncommon for sentencings to be continued for any number of reasons. For instance, the state or defense may need additional documentation or the judge may need more time to make a decision. Judges have told me they probably put more thought into sentencing then any other thing they do,” Brodsky said. “What defense attorney would object - nobody is in a hurry to be sentenced.  Basically it happens all the time and 99 percent of the time it has nothing to do with the facts of the case or any material thing.”  

But there are other questions and concerns when the matter concerns a powerful Chicago Democrat family like the Jacksons

The Chicago Way is also no longer confined to the Illinois state line; it has impacted and altered the way business is done in Washington, perhaps permanently. The president’s Chicago advisors ― Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett, to name a few ― have seen to that.  

So can the judge be influenced?

Judge Amy Berman-Jackson was nominated to the bench by President Obama on June 17, 2010.

To date, her appointment has resulted in a decidedly mixed bag for the Obama Administration. She has challenged the Justice Department’s claim that courts have no jurisdiction in the bungled federal gun-tracking operation known as Operation Fast and Furious. But some Republicans charge she has sat for a year on Rep. Darrell Issa’s lawsuit to enforce his subpoena for documents related to the case.

She replaced Judge Robert Wilkins, another Obama appointee, who withdrew from the Jackson case in April. Wilkins had offered to recuse himself earlier in the case citing his past relationship with Jackson Sr., i.e., his work on Rev. Jackson’s presidential campaign and an appearance on his CNN show.

Over the decades, the Jackson family’s business and political dealings have also raised troubling questions of conflicts-of-interest and pay-to-play politics in Chicago and in the nation’s capital.

It’s common knowledge that Rev. Jesse Jackson parlayed Operation PUSH’s 1982 boycott of Anheuser-Busch into a financial windfall for his sons. African American employees had complained that they were being denied promotions and were subjected to racial slurs at the beer giant. But many have suggested that the Jacksons merely used the boycott for personal gain.

To put the boycott to an end, August Busch III met privately with Jackson, Jr. to discuss plans to increase the number of minority employees and contractors at the company and soon began donating to Jackson’s funds and political campaigns, including the congressional campaign of Jesse Jackson Jr.

Then in 1998, Busch handpicked Yusef Jackson, 28, to be the majority owner of a Budweiser distributorship on Chicago’s North and Northwest Sides, making him one of the youngest such owners in the country. Yusef’s brother, Jonathan Jackson, also came onboard as part owner of the company, though neither had any experience in the brewing business.

Questions still remain about the Jacksons‘ minority hiring practices, the brothers’ salaries, and what they paid for the company, which is valued in excess of $25 million. 

Then there are the lingering questions of Jesse Jackson Jr.’s involvement in the Blagojevich scandal and his alleged offer to buy Barack Obama’s old Senate seat through donor and friend, Raghuveer Nayak. Nayak later told authorities that Jackson called to warn him off of making a pay-to-play offer because of he was tipped off about a federal investigation.

Now Jackson faces a maximum five-year prison term for his misuse of campaign funds. Will he get the maximum or a slap-on-the-wrist?

Prosecutors have recommended a sentence of 48 months in prison and to order him to pay $750,000 in restitution to his campaign fund, as well as a forfeiture money judgment of $750,000. A forfeiture motion filed last week listed the Jackson’s Chicago and D.C. homes. Prosecutors have also recommended a sentence of 18 months for Jackson’s wife, Sandi.

But Brodsky doesn’t believe Jackson’s sentence will be that severe. “I don’t think Sandi is going to jail. Certainly not both parents at the same time,” Brodsky says. “Maybe 12 months to 18 months for Jesse Jr. Very hard to predict. They will serve about 85 percent.”

If Brodsky turns out to be right, Jesse Jackson Jr. could serve as little as 10 months in prison. If he is eligible for federal disability payments, he could receive as much as $8,700 a month or 60 percent of his congressional pay once his sentence is completed.

Perhaps there will be another gold-plated Rolex or mounted elk’s head in Jackson’s future.

After all, funny business seems to be the Jackson family’s middle name. 

Read more from Chicago with Bill Kelly’s Truth Squad

William J. Kelly is an Emmy award-winning TV producer and conservative columnist. He is also a contributor to the American Spectator and He is a native from Chicago’s Southside.

This article is the copyrighted property of the writer and Communities @ Written permission must be obtained before reprint in online or print media. REPRINTING TWTC CONTENT WITHOUT PERMISSION AND/OR PAYMENT IS THEFT AND PUNISHABLE BY LAW.

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William Kelly


Conservative commentator, satirist, and radio talk show host William J. Kelly pens the “Kelly Truth Squad” and “The Tea Party Report” for the Washington Times Communities and is a contributor to the American Spectator and Kelly is also a producer of Emmy award-winning TV and received an Emmy nomination himself for outstanding achievement on-camera. He was previously the Executive Director of the National Taxpayers United of Illinois, a taxpayer watchdog group. He is a native of Chicago’s South side. For more information, visit

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