Female Chicago aldermen unite behind Sandi Jackson, one of their own
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 8, 2012 12:46PM
Alderman Sandi Jackson attends an unveiling ceremony of the Henry L. English Way street sign on Thursday, August 9, 2012 in Chicago. | Richard A. Chapman~Sun-Times
Updated: December 10, 2012 6:23AM
The sorority of female aldermen on Thursday closed ranks behind one of their own — Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) — amid word that Jackson’s newly re-elected husband, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Il.), is negotiating a plea deal and may have used campaign funds to buy a $40,000 Rolex for a female friend.
The post-election plea bargaining was galling enough to Sandi Jackson’s sisters in the City Council. Even more upsetting was the public humiliation that Sandi Jackson is enduring once again because of her husband’s alleged philandering.
“In every marriage somewhere down the line, you think that your husband might fool around on you, but not necessarily commit adultery. Being a high-profile person, how constrained could he be? But, to have it all now slammed in her face. That has got to be so humiliating, it’s like, I don’t want to get out of bed,” said Ald. Carrie Austin (34th), chairman of the City Council’s Budget Committee.
“You fooled us all — including your wife. We respected you were ill. [We said,] `Let the man heal.’ And then, you come out with this poppycock? I’m angry that you would wait until the day after the election that you won handily with the support of all of us. Nobody came against you. Then, you come out the next day working out a deal? We’ll deal your butt out of the Congress. Get somebody in there who’s gonna be honest with us and work on our behalf. Maybe, it should be Sandi.”
Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed reported this week that Jesse Jackson Jr. is negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors investigating the congressman’s alleged misuse of campaign funds.
Sneed reported that the allegations stemmed from Jesse Jackson Jr.’s alleged use of campaign funds to decorate the couple’s $2.5 million Washington D.C. townhouse and buy a $40,000 Rolex watch as a gift for a female friend.
On Thursday, Sandi Jackson stayed away from a City Council meeting, avoiding reporters waiting to ambush her.
Chicago’s 15 female aldermen are a close-knit group. They had Sandi Jackson’s back.
“She’s tried to stand up under all this pressure. She’s tried to be a good wife [and] stand behind her husband. Then, you turn around and do this? You bought this hussy a $40,000 watch? He would need to stay at the Mayo Clinic if he was my husband,” Austin said.
“This is a real expensive girlfriend. Wow. What $40,000 watch have you bought for Sandi, you buzzard?”
Ald. Michelle Harris (8th) was reluctant to discuss the dirty laundry in the Jackson household.
“I love Sandi. She’s a wonderful person. Whatever issues they have, she’s got a great, strong constitution. She’s gonna work through it and be fine,” Harris said.
Ald. Deborah Graham (29th) said she was “heartbroken” for Sandi Jackson and the humiliation she must be enduring.
“She’s got to be torn. She’s got to be going through a lot of different emotions. It’s a terrible time for her and her children,” Graham said.
If she was in Sandi’s shoes, Graham said, “I would be devastated, but there’s some vows that you make. Now, she has to make some decisions about whether she stands by him or makes other choices. Those decisions belong to her. She’s a beautiful and bubbly person. My heart goes out to her. It’s a sad time.”
Jesse Jackson Jr., son of the famed civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., has been on a leave of absence since June 10, initially issuing a statement saying he suffered from exhaustion.
Jackson announced the leave two weeks after he started it. The public statement came at 5 p.m. on the day of the filing deadline for challengers to the seat he’s held since 1995. Jackson was released from the Mayo Clinic, where he was treated for a bipolar disorder, only to return there recently to continue his recuperation.
Since 2008, Jackson has been dogged by a scandal involving now-convicted and jailed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had the power to appoint the next U.S. senator when Barack Obama was elected president. Jackson remains under investigation by a House ethics panel.
Sandi Jackson last answered questions about her husband at the Oct. 3rd City Council meeting.
On that day, she disclosed that her ailing husband would not return to work until after the election. She also declared that her husband would remain on the ballot and had no intention of pulling any “last minute switcheroos” — by withdrawing his candidacy and allowing Democratic Party Chairman Joe Berrios to replace him.
“No last-minute switcheroos. He would never do that, and I would never want that for him. I strongly believe in the democratic process,” she said that day.