Political Party Time

Jesse Jackson, Jr. guilty of partying

Former Democratic Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. pleaded guilty this morning of using over $750,000 of campaign funds to buy personal items. At least he risked his career and illegally used the money to buy really important things though, right? Not unless one thinks Michael Jackson's old fedora ($4,600), or a reversible mink parka ($1,200), or even Bruce Lee memorabilia that belonged to Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of life's necessities!

Jackson, Jr., the son of famed civil rights leader, and failed presidential candidate, Rev. Jesse Jackson, raised a substantial amount of his campaign cash through political fundraisers. The PT database shows him as a prolific partier, throwing nearly 30 fundraisers stretching back to 2007. However, starting with the run-up to Jackson, Jr.'s medical leave for exhaustion in June of 2012 there is no further fundraising activity. His record of nine events occurred in 2009, and he was fundraising as late as February of last year at a reception with DCCC chair Steve Israel, D-N.Y. According to the Washington Post, Jackson, Jr. spent hundreds of thousands from 2005 through April of last year; this means all the invites in PT fall into that period of time, and funds from them could possibly have been used to purchase personal items illegally.

Many of these events are run-of-the-mill Capitol Hill fundraisers: Quick meals or receptions, three-tiered price points ($5,000/$2,500/$1,000) and located at the usual high-end D.C. restaurants (Johnny's Half Shell, Art and Soul, Charlie Palmer's, etc.). Jackson, Jr. didn't have any (relatively) extravagant, high-dollar parties -- the tallest asking amount was $5,000, which was the price tag on 11 events (one donation at that level and he's already 1/9th of the way to buying a new watch!). It seems Jackson, Jr. had the usual recipe down.

The former lawmaker also loved to combine his love of sports in his partying, everything from bowling to fishing. He supported his hometown Chicago Bulls when they came to town, hosting a pair of $2,500 events at the Verizon Center on Feb. 22 and Feb. 28 of 2011. The first fundraiser on record is a $2,500 Chicago Bears versus Washington Redskins game in 2007, when they still played at FedEx Field. Jackson Jr. even had an Inaugural Bowling Night in 2008 set to the theme of a certain Coen Brothers' movie (hint: one of the price levels was "The Dude").

21st Century Group lobbyist Jocelyn Hong, Party Time's #1 all-time host, has also offered her services to Jackson, Jr. Twice Hong has hosted birthday celebrations at the 21st Century townhouse, for his 44th birthday in 2009 and his 45th in 2010. He also held a Taste of Chicago Reception at the townhouse, located at 434 New Jersey Avenue, SE, in December of 2011 where no host was listed. All three of those had a maximum asking price of $5,000.

One thing PT did not find in it's vast data: Raghuveer Nayak, an ex-Jackson, Jr. fundraiser who was connected to former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's plot to fill President Obama's vacated Senate seat to the highest bidder. Nayak was arrested in June of last year for a host of fraud and tax violations.