Jesse Jackson urges Trump to pardon former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich

The Rev. Jesse Jackson sent a personal appeal to President Trump last Friday, asking him to pardon the imprisoned former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich.

Jackson, the civil rights leader whose nonprofit Rainbow PUSH Coalition is based in Chicago, argued that Blagojevich’s 14-year sentence is “unfair and unnecessary.”

“Rod Blagojevich was a governor that cared for the people in the state of Illinois,” Jackson said in a letter that was co-signed by former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., his son. “We stand with his family as they seek a full pardon for a father and husband that has served most of a sentence that was far longer than the offense deserved.”

Blagojevich was convicted of various offenses, including trying to leverage his power to appoint someone to former President Barack Obama's vacated Senate seat to raise campaign cash or land a high-paying job. He has served seven years and three months of his sentence – one the stiffest penalties imposed for corruption in a state with a history of crooked politics.

Trump has previously spoken about releasing the ex-governor, saying he was convicted for “being stupid,” but no action has been taken.


Illinois Republicans in Congress have asked Trump to reject a request for clemency.

Jesse Jackson Jr. is a former member of Congress who was convicted of using campaign money for personal purposes.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.