Published December 12, 2008
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, declaring that "the truth will prevail," is defending himself and his son against speculation that they were involved with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's alleged pay-to-play politics.
Jackson told FOX News on Friday that any reports suggesting that he or other family members tried to offer money to the governor -- in exchange for Blagojevich's appointing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. to Barack Obama's Senate seat -- were based on "unfounded accusations" and "rumors."
The civil rights leader spoke with FOX News shortly after his son disputed a report that said businessmen with ties to him and Blagojevich discussed raising $1 million for the governor in order to get the congressman a promotion to the U.S. Senate.
The account, given by anonymous sources in a Chicago Tribune article Friday, depicts Jackson's brother Jonathan as an active participant. The report has parallels to an alleged scheme detailed in the FBI's complaint against Blagojevich.
The affidavit says Blagojevich was considering an offer of up to $1.5 million in campaign funds from associates of an individual identified as Senate Candidate 5, in exchange for appointing that candidate to replace President-elect Obama in the U.S. Senate.
Jackson's lawyer has confirmed that the Illinois congressman is likely Senate Candidate 5.
But the congressman, in an interview with the Associated Press on Friday, denied that he and his brother were involved in any scheme with Blagojevich.
Jackson Jr. said "to an absolute certainty" that his brother was not involved in any scheming or wrongdoing.
Their father later told FOX News that the issue should be handled in the courtroom, not the "newsroom," and said his son is the most qualified candidate for Obama's seat. He said even submitting a resume to the "radioactive" governor now seems "tainting and toxic."
The Tribune reported that Raghuveer Nayak, a Blagojevich supporter and businessman with ties to the Jackson family, co-sponsored a fundraiser for the governor on Dec. 6, and that Jonathan Jackson attended along with the governor.
The article said Nayak and an aide to Blagojevich had already told attendees at a late October meeting that the fundraiser was meant to help Jackson's bid for the Senate.
Jackson Jr. called a press conference on Wednesday to beat back speculation that he was somehow implicated in the federal corruption investigation. He said he's been assured by prosecutors that he's not a target of their probe.
"I want to make this fact plain: I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing," Jackson said at the time. "I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf."
FOX News' Mosheh Oinounou and The Associated Press contributed to this report.