Talking Points: Keeping Tabs on Jesse Jackson

Some action on the Jesse Jackson front, and that's the subject of this evening's Talking Points memo.

The financial weekly Barron's is reporting that Jackson is trying to involve himself in the enormous pension fund the state of Illinois oversees. A political ally of Jackson's, Representative Todd Stroger from Chicago, has introduced a bill that would require at least 25 percent of that state's pension investments be managed by minority firms. If passed, that would mean tens of millions of dollars in commissions and fees for those firms.

Barron's says, "Two minority financiers and one source close to Jackson's camp say that minority firms must contribute to one or another of Jackson's organizations if they want to get in on the increased pension fund work."

There is no question that Jesse Jackson remains a powerful force in Illinois, where the attorney general will not investigate his tax-exempt entities despite repeated mistakes and missing documentation on their tax returns.

Supporters of Jackson say the Reverend's involvement in brokering who gets to invest state pension funds is a good thing because minority firms are under represented all over the country in this area and white firms often are awarded contracts because of political favoritism. But Barron's reports that the message in Illinois is if a minority firm wants to be considered, they must kick back to Jackson. Barron's quotes an unnamed source as saying there is a quid pro quo, there are no freebies.

As usual, Jesse Jackson refuses to comment, but some minority business people are quoted in the article as saying they're being shut out of consideration by the State of Illinois because they do not contribute to Jackson. If Representative Stroger's bill passes, it would be by far the largest affirmative action financial deal in the country. By comparison, the State of Ohio suggests, not mandates, suggests that 10 percent of its pension investing be handled by minority firms.

On the personal front, Jackson's mistress, Karin Stanford, told the Chicago Tribune that she is taking Jackson to court asking for more support for their two-year-old daughter. Ms. Stanford maintains Jackson has not seen the little girl since December. The 39-year-old former college professor says she had a four and a half year affair with Jackson, but now rarely speaks with him. She also told the Tribune she may change the baby's name to Jackson in the near future.

As for the reverend himself, he continues to keep a low profile. A recent tour of Georgia was not the rousing success he hoped it would be. The IRS could pull the trigger on an audit at any time, but at this point that government agency continues to be on the sidelines despite the change in administration. There's no date set for the vote on the Illinois bill. We'll let you know what happens.

And that's the memo.

Most Ridiculous Item of the Day

Two Emory University professors have been studying CNBC financial reporter Maria Bartiromo. Yeah, I bet. The professors have concluded that after Ms. Bartiromo recommends a stock on our midday call-in program, said stock rises quickly.

The study says the gains tend to stick around for at least a month, demonstrating that Maria Bartiromo has a bit of power on Wall Street. And we hope she uses it wisely. Otherwise, it would be ridiculous.

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