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Feds: Jesse Jackson Jr. Offered to Raise $1 Million for Blago in Exchange for Obama Senate Seat

5:57 PM, Jul 8, 2010 • By MICHAEL WARREN
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Remember when Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr., (D-Ill.) denied "unequivocally" any wrongdoing in the 2008 Illinois Senate seat pay-for-play scandal? Here's the New York Times report in which Jackson says he didn't try to strike a deal with governor Rod Blagojevich to get Barack Obama's vacated seat:

Mr. Jackson, an ambitious Democrat elected to Congress 13 years ago and the son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the civil rights leader, made a defiant appearance before reporters in Washington on Wednesday, denying unequivocally that he had offered Mr. Blagojevich anything in exchange for the Senate seat or had sanctioned any offer by an intermediary, as Mr. Blagojevich seemed to suggest in recordings.

“I did not initiate or authorize anyone at any time to promise anything to Governor Blagojevich on my behalf,” Mr. Jackson said. “I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer, to plead my case or to propose a deal about a U.S. Senate seat, period.”

But federal prosecutors in the ongoing Blagojevich trial say Jackson met with the disgraced governor's employee in October 2008. Jackson and a top fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, met with Blagojevich employee Rajinder Bedi, with whom they discussed the would-be vacant U.S. Senate seat. The Chicago Sun-Times reports:

"The thing that's significant, Nayak says: 'I will raise $1 million for Blagojevich if he appoints you [Jackson] to the Senate seat,'" Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Niewoehner told U.S. District Judge James Zagel with the jury out of the room. Niewoehner said Bedi heard Nayak tell Jackson this. He did not offer any more details.

Hours later, Bedi met with Rod Blagojevich's fund-raising chairman, Robert Blagojevich.

"That statement ... leads Bedi to mention [to Robert Blagojevich] that Nayak is interested in doing fund-raising for Blagojevich, and he wants Jackson appointed," Niewoehner said.

Jackson, who is not accused of wrongdoing, has said he never offered to raise money for Blagojevich. Prosecutors revealed few details of the Oct. 28 meeting, which was largely discussed with jurors out of the room. Ultimately, Zagel severely limited what Bedi could testify about.

Jackson's office has not yet responded to this development.

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