Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. said Wednesday he is not a target of the federal investigation that led to this week's arrest of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
A lawyer for Jackson acknowledged that the Illinois Democrat is Senate "Candidate 5" in the 76-page federal complaint filed against Blagojevich. Wiretapped conversations suggested Blagojevich felt the candidate would raise campaign money for him in exchange for being appointed to the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama.
Jackson told reporters in Washington that he spoke with the U.S. attorney's office Tuesday. "They shared with me that I am not a target of the investigation and that I am not accused of any misconduct," said Jackson, who left the crowded session without taking questions.
Jackson, a seven-term House member and son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, said he eagerly and openly sought the Senate appointment but was not involved "whatsoever in any wrongdoing."
The U.S. attorney's office had no immediate comment.
Blagojevich, a second-term Democrat, was arrested and accused of scheming to enrich himself by selling Obama's open seat for cash or a lucrative job for himself or his wife. The federal complaint says that in a wiretapped conversation on Oct. 31, Blagojevich described an approach "by an associate of Senate Candidate 5."
The governor was quoted as saying that an associate of Candidate 5 approached him "pay to play" proposition, a term for a payment in exchange for a political favor. "That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand" for future political campaigns, he said in the wiretapped conversation.
Jackson said Wednesday: "I did not initiate nor authorize anyone, at any time, to promise anything to Gov. Blagojevich on my behalf. I never sent a message or an emissary to the governor to make an offer or to propose a deal about the U.S. Senate seat."
He said he would fully cooperate with the investigation.
Jackson's Chicago-based lawyer, James D. Montgomery Sr., said, "politicians and fundraisers do some very strange things from time to time. I wouldn't put it past someone to be purporting to represent Jesse without authority."