Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. confirmed Wednesday that he is the subject of a preliminary inquiry from a congressional ethics board looking into his attempts to be appointed to the Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama.
The Illinois Democrat said he is cooperating with a review from the Office of Congressional Ethics. The board is looking into Jackson's interactions with former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who was indicted last week on a variety of corruption charges including allegations he attempted to sell the vacant Senate seat.
"As I said when the Blagojevich scandal first broke back in December, I have done nothing wrong and reject pay-to-play politics," Jackson said in a statement. "I'm confident that this new ethics office — which I voted in favor of creating — will be able to conduct a fair and expeditious review and dismiss this matter."
Jackson said he was told of the inquiry last week.
Jackson, the son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, has previously acknowledged he was "Senate Candidate A" in Blagojevich's criminal complaint.
According to the complaint, Jackson was one of several candidates to whom authorities allege Blagojevich tried to shop the Senate seat now held by Roland Burris. Jackson's supporters were willing to raise $1.5 million for Blagojevich if he picked the congressman, according to the filing.
Jackson's case will now go to the Office of Congressional Ethics, a bipartisan panel made up of non-lawmakers who review and investigate possible ethics violations by House members. The board can review cases and refer them to the House ethics committee if merited.
Two members of the office, one from each party, are needed to initiate a preliminary investigation of a member. Three board members must vote to move to the next phase of the review.
The Office of Congressional Ethics does not publicly acknowledge its investigations, and if the panel dismisses a case, no record is made. Authority to make recommendations of censure or punishment still rests with the House ethics committee, which is made up of lawmakers.
The Chicago Sun-Times was first to report the inquiry.