RAW DATA: Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. Responds to Arrest of Gov. Blagojevich

STATEMENT OF CONGRESSMAN JESSE L. JACKSON, JR. ON THE ARREST OF GOVERNOR BLAGOJEVICH

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I was shocked and saddened to learn that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested yesterday by federal law enforcement officials.

The details of the corruption charges were staggering and stunning. If these allegations are proved true, I'm appalled by the pay-to-play schemes hatched at the highest levels of Illinois state government.

I think that I can speak for all Illinois residents when I express outrage at the thought that Illinois' now-vacant senate seat may have been put up for sale, offered to the highest bidder.

Sadly, yesterday's criminal complaint casts another dark cloud over a state already beleaguered by corruption and scandal. Clearly, the people of Illinois deserve better. They deserve to have their trust and confidence in government restored.

In light of yesterday's criminal indictment, I believe that the Governor -- in the best interest of our state -- should resign and forfeit his authority to make the senate appointment. The fact is: anyone appointed by the Governor at this point would be too severely tainted to serve the state effectively and without suspicion in the U.S. Senate.

Meanwhile, the Governor's fate is in the hands of the justice system. We must allow the process to run its course.

As it does, I want to address the rumors and reports about me and my involvement in this process.

I want to make this fact plain: I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing.

I did not initiate nor authorize anyone -- at any time -- to promise anything -- to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the Governor to make an offer or to propose a deal about the U.S. Senate seat (period).

I thought -- mistakenly -- that the process was fair, above board and on the merits. I thought -- mistakenly -- that the Governor was evaluating me and the other senate hopefuls based on our credentials and qualifications. I thought -- mistakenly -- that the Governor was going to make a decision in the best interest of the state as well as the nation.

I thought -- mistakenly -- that the Governor was considering me based on my 13 years of working on behalf of the hard working people of the state as well as the nation. I thought -- mistakenly -- I had a chance and was being considered because I earned it.

Clearly, I was badly mistaken.

I did not know that the process had been corrupted. I did not know that credentials, qualifications and record of service meant nothing to the Governor. I did not know that the Governor and his cronies were attempting to use the process to extort money and favors in a brazen pay-to-play scheme.

I wanted to be considered for the appointment because I believe in public service. I believe that Illinois deserves another senator -- serving alongside Senator Dick Durbin -- who shares their values and will work to fix our economy; make our nation energy independent; provide health care to all; and provide our children with a world-class education.

That's what I shared with Governor Blagojevich on Monday, when I had the opportunity to meet with him for the first time in about four years. I presented my record, my qualifications and my vision. Despite what he may have been looking for, that's all I had to offer. And, that's what we discussed.

To the people of Illinois: I want to thank you for the opportunity to serve you. I want to thank the thousands and thousands of people who supported me for the senate, writing letters, making phone calls, sending e-mails and circulating petitions.

I want to thank the Chicago Sun-Times, the Chicago Defender, the SouthtownStar, N'Digo magazine, Kankakee City News for their editorial endorsements. I want to thank the business, labor, clergy, civic and community leaders and the thousands of honest, hardworking citizens of Illinois who supported me.

We did it right. We pressed to make this process public and to make your voice heard.

Know this: I spoke to the U.S. Attorney's office on Tuesday. They shared with me that I am NOT a target of the investigation and that I am NOT accused of any misconduct. In the days ahead, federal law enforcement officials want to meet and discuss what I know about the process.

I look forward to sitting down with them and cooperating fully and completely with this federal investigation.

I've retained the advice of legal counsel, Mr. James Montgomery, Sr., who held his own press conference earlier this afternoon. On his advice and due to the ongoing investigation, I will not be taking any questions.