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According to the Weingarten Absolution, it is a victimless crime for a politician to loot his own campaign fund. Then what, pray, is a political campaign fund in America, if what the Jacksons did is OK?
Nothing but a box full of bribes.
After they got their rather light sentence, Jesse Jr. left the courtroom and made his final speech outside for the TV cameras. It wasn’t Blubbering Junior, but Junior Seeking Redemption.
“I still believe in the power of forgiveness,” he said. “I believe in the power of redemption. Today I manned up and tried to accept responsibility for the errors of my ways. And I still believe in the resurrection.”
If Jackson truly wants forgiveness, I hope he receives it. Personally, I’ll forgive him right now. But he should do something else first: four years in prison, which is what the feds suggested, and what’s called for under the recommended federal sentencing guidelines. Junior got half of what he had coming.
Though the Jacksons might play the wounded spirits, they’ve got to be celebrating. They’re not naive. They’ve had their behinds smooched for years in Chicago. Each graduated from law school. So they know the rules.
Just try stealing $10,000 and see how much time you’ll get. Knock off a gas station for a few hundred dollars and get caught and see what the judge gives you.
The judge won’t give you a lecture, as did Judge Jackson to the Jacksons. You won’t have high-priced legal talent working pro bono, as the Jacksons received. If you’re poor, you’d get a public defender. Some are quite good at their jobs. But most are overworked and underpaid.
You’d get real time. And your roommate behind bars won’t likely be another crooked politician who’ll quote Shakespeare or Edmund Burke. Your roommate will most likely be an illiterate who amuses himself by kicking your teeth out.
What’s odious about the Jackson case is the carefully leaked media spin that the theft was the result of Junior’s reported mental problems. Junior is tightly wound, no doubt. Watching him narrowly skip away from that business of allegedly trying to buy a U.S. Senate seat demonstrated how uptight he is.
But prosecutors in court Wednesday said that none of Jackson’s claims about his mental illness was supported by any evidence or testimony from psychiatrists. In other words, it was just spin.
At least Chicago can look past the tears and the wet tissue to see what happened:
The Jacksons had money. They didn’t need to steal. They took $750,000 because they felt like it.
And they got off easy.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.