WASHINGTON — Asking for mercy for former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote to a federal judge last month calling Jackson intelligent, charming and entertaining – the “highlight of our karaoke nights.”
The correspondence from Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, the caucus chair, was among 14 letters in the case made public Tuesday as Jackson and his wife, former Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson, await sentencing July 1.
Eight of the writers were sympathetic to Jackson, his wife or both. Six were not. Wheaton dentist Martin A. Dettmer wrote that citizens everywhere, especially in Illinois, “are sick and tired of behavior like (former) Rep. Jackson's.”
“Please do everything in your power to see that (former) Rep. Jackson pays, and pays dearly, for his egregious and repulsive behavior,” Dettmer added.
Jackson Jr., a South Side Democrat, pleaded guilty to misusing more than $750,000 in campaign cash on a Rolex watch, celebrity memorabilia, vacations and other goods. His wife pleaded guilty in a related felony case for failing to report on tax returns about $600,000 in income.
Both resigned from office before their guilty pleas. Under sentencing guidelines, he faces 46 to 57 months in prison and she faces one to two years in prison.
Fudge, the Ohio lawmaker, mentioned in her letter the health problems of Jackson Jr., who has been treated for bipolar disorder. Even as some members of Congress saw “various signs of illness” in him during the last four to five years, he continued to “work as a tireless advocate of the poor and underserved,” she wrote.
“When things got tough or extremely difficult on the House floor, we could count on Jesse to bring levity to an otherwise daunting situation with a bad joke or a one-man skit,” she added. “Jesse was the highlight of our karaoke nights and always made everyone feel like an integral part of, and not apart from, various activities.”
“Jesse is worth saving,” she concluded, “and I know he can continue to have a positive impact on the lives of others as he has with my colleagues and me.”
Ayofemi Kirby, a Fudge spokeswoman, confirmed that the lawmaker authored the letter but said she had no further comment.
Two women calling themselves Sandi Jackson’s cousins asked that she be shown mercy. One asked that she be put on probation, saying she had a “heart of gold” and that a tougher sanction would be “devastating for her and our entire family,” particularly the couple’s two young children.
The cases are in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Many letters were addressed to Judge Robert Wilkins, who took the Jacksons’ pleas but is no longer on the case. The new judge, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, released the letters, court filings email@example.com