Jesse Jackson jnr's wacko obession with memorabilia

By Tim Walker

Prosecutors in Washington filed fraud and conspiracy charges against Jackson last weekend. Photo / AP
Prosecutors in Washington filed fraud and conspiracy charges against Jackson last weekend. Photo / AP

Countless politicians have been caught indulging secret vices, but few can claim an addiction as eccentric as that of the former US Congressman Jesse Jackson jnr.

Jackson, the 47-year-old son of the veteran civil rights campaigner, the Rev Jesse Jackson, has admitted spending US$750,000 ($888,840) of campaign funds on personal expenses, including tens of thousands on celebrity memorabilia.

Over four years starting in 2007, the Illinois Democrat is accused of using funds donated to his re-election campaign to buy US$22,700 of Michael Jackson memorabilia, including a US$4600 fedora.

He also spent US$10,105 on Bruce Lee memorabilia, US$11,130 on mementoes of the Rev Martin Luther King, and almost US$9000 on items related to Malcolm X, Jimi Hendrix and Eddie Van Halen.

Last weekend, prosecutors in Washington filed fraud and conspiracy charges against Jackson.

His wife, Sandi, 49, is charged with tax fraud after allegedly filing tax returns that under-reported the amount the couple owed. Both intend to plead guilty. Jackson faces a maximum five years in prison and a fine of up to US$250,000. The court could also seize at least US$60,000 of items.

Court documents reveal that the most expensive single item was a US$43,350 gold-plated men's Rolex watch, bought in July 2007.

The following year, Jackson claimed to have spent US$1553 to rent a room in a Chicago museum for a campaign fundraising event, but prosecutors say he used that money to buy "porcelain collectors' items".

Jackson was elected to the House of Representatives in 1995 after his predecessor, Mel Reynolds, was convicted of statutory rape.

Jackson resigned in November, citing bipolar disorder and depression. His wife, an elected Chicago city official, resigned last month.

The shopping list

*Malcolm X memorabilia, Feb 2010 US$2200
*Gold-plated men's Rolex watch, July 2007 US$43,350
*Bruce Lee memorabilia, Aug 2007 to Aug 2008 US$10,105
*Martin Luther King memorabilia, Aug and Sept 2008 US$11,130
*Michael Jackson items, Aug 2009 to Mar 2010 US$4600
*Eddie Van Halen guitar and Michael Jackson items, Nov 2009 US$4000


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