Yesterday, I had the day off and I was fortunate enough to catch the Jesse and Sandy Jackson sentencing.
I’m going to be very honest here and say that I have met the elder Jesse Jackson a couple of times (he attended my nephew Corey Ankum’s funeral where he comforted me and other family members) and that I hold him in high esteem. So my opinion is totally biased. It was difficult watching him go through his family troubles without being able to reach out and comfort him.
I also listened as Jesse Jackson Jr.’s local constituents said time and time again, to a host of different reporters, that they did not think that the two and half years the former Illinois Congressman received and the one year his wife received was too lenient. I beg to disagree. Anytime spent behind bars, or held anywhere, against your will is TOO LONG.
I think his sentence was appropriate, providing, he pays back the money. However, I think Sandy Jackson’s was too harsh. There are thousands of women walking free in this country who have lied to the IRS and are NOT behind bars.
I do think she smiled a bit too much and overdid the putting on a ‘brave face.’ It did not go over well. She should have been coached to remember something I tell the kids all the time, ‘cameras are everywhere these days’, even in Judges’ offices.
I for one can understand how it’s easy to dip into ‘ready money’ that people have given to you for your campaign. The money is there. It’s for your use. Why not use it. It seems to me that he forgot to due his ‘due diligence’, i.e. if you’re going to Costco to spend a couple thousand dollars, make sure you invite some staff members over and have a meeting. And serve them something to eat and drink that you bought at Costco. And he, like the senior George Bush, he should have glanced at that expensive watch during a debate, therefore making it a necessary expense.
All jokes, aside, I definitely remember a time when it was perfectly legal for a candidate to spend campaign money on personal expenses. The law was changed as a Republican maneuver at keeping Bill Clinton out of office. And the states followed suit.
The following excerpt is from Wikipedia
Efforts to strengthen campaign finance laws
Main article: Campaign finance reform in the United States
Developments after Buckley
In 1986, several bills were killed in the U.S. Senate by bipartisan maneuvering which did not allow the bills to come up for a vote. The bills would impose strict controls for campaign fund raising. Later in 1988, legislative and legal setbacks on proposals designed to limiting overall campaign spending by candidates were shelved after a Republican filibuster. In addition, a constitutional amendment to override ‘’Buckley’’ failed to get off the ground.
In 1994, Senate Democrats had more bills blocked by Republicans including a bill setting spending limits and authorizing partial public financing of congressional elections. In 1996, bipartisan legislation for voluntary spending limits which rewarded those who comply, and which banned soft money, was killed by a Republican filibuster.
The Reform Party, founded by Ross Perot, made campaign finance reform a central issue in its platform, and when Perot ran for president in 1992 and 1996 he strongly argued for it. Oddly enough, most political scientists believe that campaign finance laws hindered Perot’s efforts to establish the Reform Party on a permanent basis.