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August 13, 2013

Ex-Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. faces sentencing



Jackson, who was fond of presenting himself as a champion of the poor, spent $43,350 on the Rolex; an avid cigar smoker, he spent $17,000 on tobacco products.

Dozens of angry Illinois voters weighed in with letters of their own, arguing against leniency.

"I am aware that bipolar disorder can cause mood swings," wrote Philip C. Basil. "Can it also cause a lapse in honesty?"

In their own filings, prosecutors took particular umbrage at defense claims that Jackson's misdeeds were ultimately victimless. Jackson betrayed voters, they told the judge, and he undermined the democratic process by shaking public confidence in the nation's campaign-finance system.

They also dismiss the notion Jackson's bipolar disorder accounts for his improprieties.

There's no proof his bipolar mood swings had any bearing on the "3,100 illegal transactions that occurred during the life of the conspiracy," they say in one filing.

They describe how Jackson became swept up in the scandal of then-Gov. Blagojevich, who is now serving a 14-year sentence, including for seeking to sell the Senate seat Barack Obama vacated to become president.

While prosecutors never charged Jackson in that case, the FBI interviewed him about allegations his backers offered Blagojevich $1.5 million in campaign cash if Blagojevich named Jackson to Obama's old seat.

Far from dialing back on his misuse of campaign money as he became embroiled in the Blagojevich affair, Jackson "decided to double down on his criminal conduct," including by having some donors pay his personal bills directly, prosecutors say.

"One must," they add, "conclude that the defendant believed that the law did not apply to him."

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