CHICAGO Amid reports that he may have misused campaign funds, Illinois congressman Jesse Jackson Jr has hired a lawyer to handle negotiations with the federal government on possible plea deal in which he would resign from the House of Representatives and spend time in prison, media said.
CBS 2 television reported on Saturday and Fox News Chicago on Monday, citing an unnamed source, that Jackson hired Dan Webb, a former U.S. attorney in Chicago who represents defendants in high-profile corruption cases to represent the 47-year-old lawmaker.
Both reports said Jackson, who was easily re-elected to Congress on November 6, may have to resign his seat and serve time in prison under terms of the deal being negotiated.
Webb and a spokesman for Jackson did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.
Last week, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Jackson was under investigation for allegedly misusing campaign funds to decorate his home and to buy a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. Reuters has not confirmed the report.
Jackson, the son of civil rights activist and former presidential candidate Jesse Jackson, was treated for at least six weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, this summer for bipolar disorder, a psychological condition marked by extreme mood swings. He has been on medical leave from the House since June and has not been seen in public.
In addition to his health issues, Jackson has been the subject of a House ethics committee probe over an alleged bribe offered by a Jackson supporter in 2008 to then Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich.
The bribe was said to be intended to entice Blagojevich to appoint Jackson to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Jackson has admitted to lobbying for the seat, but denied knowing about any money offered to Blagojevich, who has since been convicted on corruption charges and imprisoned.
In October, several newspapers, including the Chicago Sun-Times and the New York Times, reported that Jackson was being investigated by the FBI for possibly misusing campaign money. The FBI would not confirm the reports.
(Reporting by James B. Kelleher; Editing by Jackie Frank)