Carol Felsenthal
On politics

A Light Sentence for Jesse Jackson Jr.? This Profile Could Help

A Washington Post profile of the ex-Congressman from last year paints a portrait of a man in disarray—including naked martial arts at a Turkish bath.

Jesse Jackson Jr


A Washington Post profile of Jesse Jackson Jr. published last October—a few weeks before Jackson won reelection and many months before the list of outlandishly extravagant items the disgraced congressman bought with contributions from his campaign fund went public—seems a tailor-made tool for his defense.

When Jackson’s defense attorney, Reid Weingartner, stands before Judge Robert Wilkins late next June he might consider reading excerpts from Manuel Roig-Franzia’s portrait of a man in obvious disarray. 

—“Jackson sometimes boasted that he was a reincarnated Greek chariot driver,” according to Frank Coconate, whom the Post reporter describes as “a political operative who helped Jackson test the possibility of a [Chicago] mayoral run several years ago before they had a falling out.” “I really thought he had a problem with reality,” Coconate says. “He’d get in his own little world. He’d come out with outlandish things.”

—At the Turkish bath that Jackson frequented, Roig-Franzia describes him as “pranc[ing] naked, demonstrating martial arts moves, while the others stayed wrapped in towels.” Roig-Franzia names as his source Frank Avila Jr., “a former supporter who is a Democratic operative.”

—In Washington, Roig-Franzia writes, Jackson never became “a player.”  Colleagues saw him as “…erratic. They’d see him late in the evening, walking the hall in martial arts gear, but miss him at meetings. On karaoke night at the Democratic Club, he could wow friends with his deft dance moves, but at other times he would retreat from social contact, according to interviews with several top Democratic aides.”

One big caveat: Roig-Franzia’s sources tend to be unnamed and a couple have fallen out with Jackson, and do not include Jackson “allies” or members of Jackson’s family who declined to be interviewed.

Related: Steve Rhodes on “Jesse Jackon Jr.’s Dark Days,” from 2012, and “What Does Junior Want?” from 2005; Dale Eastman on “The Rise of Jesse Jackson Jr. and the First Family of Black America” from 1996.


Photograph: Chicago Tribune


1 year ago
Posted by parkerpal

If people in DC saw this continued erratic behavior, certainly his family was aware that he lived on the edge of reality much of the time. Yet they enabled his continued fantasies and allowed him to spend freely from public funds. where were his parents, his siblings and his wife? Living off the influence, contacts and funding he was able to steer their way.
Even worse, when the investigation started, then they decided to use his illness as a way to stall. While treatment was certainly merited, it became a way to dodge the press as no one would step before the cameras and address the issue...they hid the diagnosis as long as possible. Even worse, they allowed him to continue his run for reelection, even after it was clearly apparent that he was unfit for office. No one cared for his constituents or the democratic process--it was all about securing the set and not allowing the voters to have a true choice.
It's a tragedy, but one that was created as much by his illness as by those who 'love' him and allowed him to pursue this course. Would you keep giving cases of liquor to an alcoholic? They all did.

1 year ago
Posted by Orion

Having a corrupt and disgraced for ghost payroller like Frank Coconuts be quoted dimishes from this article.

But one has to wonder in a Department of Justice that is overwhelmingly white, how a black District Attorney, appointed by Obama, who works for a black Attorney General Holder, also appointed by Obama, and a black judge who will sentence him, also appointed by obama - all these coincides during black history month and the month Obama comes to chicago re: violence - is not by design by the same Justice Dept than wire-tapped and blackmailed Martin Luther King.

Also ironic that JJJR. once wore a wire for the Feds trying to trap chicago politicians, is now being drawn and quartered by the Feds.

He is getting his just desserts.

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