Thursday, August 15, 2013

Jackson’s “lesser” prison sentence upstages Springpatch political spats

It’s probably a good thing that the Democrats didn’t bother with a political rally at the Illinois State Fair on Wednesday – I doubt political observers would have cared much about what was said.

JACKSON: "I was wrong"
For the attention was on the District of Columbia where former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., finally had to stand before a federal judge and have sentence imposed upon him for the misuse of campaign funds to purchase all kinds of tacky memorabilia for himself.

FOR THE RECORD, Jackson got a 2 ½-year prison term, while wife Sandi (the former 7th Ward alderman) got 1 year. There’s nothing that the Springfield-based Democrats could have said on Wednesday that would have mattered by comparison.

As it was, the Democrats had their annual breakfast of county party chairmen – and all it turned into was a Bill Daley vs. Pat Quinn hissy fit. We’ve had them before, and will have many more in the future between now and the March primary elections.

None of that will catch the public attention in the way of the Jacksons having to appear in court – including the moment when Jesse, Jr., became tearful and said the words, “I was wrong.”

Great drama. Except that I doubt the people who have been most eager to see Jackson go down to defeat will be satisfied.

BECAUSE THE FACT is that federal prosecutors had recommended the four-year prison term for the former Congressman. The ideologues who were anticipating Wednesday for many months now were hopeful that the federal judge in this case (also named Jackson, although not related in any way) would ignore the recommendation and go harder.

Instead, the judge went lighter, and went along with the Jacksons' desire to stagger their prison terms. He must report to prison by Nov. 1, while she must report within 30 days of Jackson completing his sentence.

With the concept of time off for good behavior, Jesse, Jr., will do slightly more than two years in federal custody. Admittedly, he will have another three years of supervised release – which means he’ll still have federal law enforcement-types scrutinizing his every action.

It’s more than the 18-month sentence that Jackson’s attorneys asked for, but it is not going to be perceived as enough for the ideologues – for whom they had fantasies of something along the lines of that 14-year sentence received by former Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

WHICH IS WHY I expect the rhetoric is being spewed about in certain quarters about how lenient this particular sentence is – even though I personally view it as being more in line with common sense.

As Jackson’s attorneys put it on Wednesday, the congressman’s actions, “are not a Ponzi scheme.”

Besides, I’m sure the ideologues (whose real objection to the couple is their relation to the Rev. Jesse Jackson – whom they dream of incarcerating someday) will revel in the fact that Sandi Jackson got a prison term, rather than her preference for supervision and some sort of community service.

In fact, the judge did her sentence in a way that she qualifies for no early release – she’s going to do one full year in a federal facility.

NOT THAT WE know yet where either Jackson will be detained. The Bureau of Prisons decides that, and we don’t know yet if they will be willing to go along with Jesse, Jr.’s, preference for a facility sort of close to the District of Columbia.

So perhaps the Jackson critics will get their kicks from seeing the couple denied their preferences? That strikes me as being pretty petty. Then again, much of electoral politics and government is about trying to accomplish something despite the pettiness of the people who we elected!

BLACKBURN: Over, before he began?
Although definitely more intriguing than the Springfield-based activity. Unless you were anxiously awaiting the decision by Will County Auditor Duffy Blackburn NOT to run, after all, for the Democratic nomination for Illinois comptroller.

So now it seems clearer that departing Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon will be the Democrat who gets her butt kicked by incumbent Illinois Comptroller Judy Baar Topinka come November 2014.


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