Chicago Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., is the anonymous “Senate Candidate No. 5” whose emissaries Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich reportedly offered up to $1 million to name him to the U.S. Senate, federal law enforcement sources tell ABC News.
According to the FBI affidavit in the case, Blagojevich “stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided Rod Blagojevich” with something “tangible up front.”
Jackson said this morning he was contacted Tuesday by federal prosecutors in Chicago whom he said “asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process.”
Jackson said, “I don’t know” when asked whether he was Candidate No. 5, but said he was told “I am not a target of this investigation.”
Jackson said he agreed to talk with federal investigators “as quickly as possible” after he consulted with a lawyer.
The congressman, a son of the famed civil rights leader, denied that anyone had been authorized to make payments or promises to the governor on his behalf.
According to the [FBI] affidavit, Blagojevich threatened to appoint Senate Candidate No. 5 if President-elect Obama refused to help get his wife on “paid corporate boards right now.”
The FBI says that during an Oct. 31 conversation, Blagojevich described an approach from an associate of Senate Candidate 5: “We were approached ‘pay to play.’ That, you know, he’d raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him [Senate Candidate 5] a senator.”
Jackson said Tuesday that he met with Blagojevich Monday “for the first time in years” and voiced his desire to fill Obama’s empty Senate seat. He said he was “shocked” by Blagojevich’s arrest, adding that “if these allegations are proved true, I am outraged by the appalling, pay-to-play schemes hatched at the highest levels of our state government.”
Jackson is only one of a number of Illinois political figures whom the FBI is expected to interview in Chicago and Washington. But fellow Illinois Democratic Reps. Luis Gutierrez, Jan Schakowsky and Danny Davis, as well as Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, all say they have not been contacted by the FBI or prosecutors in connection to the Blagojevich investigation.
Madigan has confirmed, however, that she is Senate Candidate #2 in the affidavit, but she denied having any conversations with Governor Blagojevich about the Senate seat.
There are strong indications that Candidate 1 may be Valerie Jarrett, Obama’s close confidante who has since been named a special presidential adviser. Senate Candidate 1 is identified in the federal documents as an adviser to the president-elect.
Durbin said Blagojevich was considering Jarrett until she withdrew her name from consideration. “The governor asked me if I thought she [Jarrett] was serious about not being appointed and I said, ‘yes, she told me point blank that she was,’” Durbin said.
The FBI affadavit can be read on-line or downloaded as a PDF file here.