FEC: Prison is no excuse for campaign filing failures

Jailed ex-congressmen Jesse Jackson Jr., William Jefferson didn't submit disclosure reports

By

 Updated:

Incarceration is apparently no excuse for not disclosing your political campaign committee activity.

The Federal Election Commission is demanding former Democratic Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill.) and William Jefferson (La.) — both serving jail sentences for varying forms of public corruption — file mandatory contribution and expenditure reports for their committees that technically remain active.

In separate letters this week to the congressmen-turned-convicts, the agency notes that there's no record of them disclosing their campaign activity from July through September, as federal law mandates they do.

"The failure to timely file a complete report may result in civil money penalties, an audit or legal enforcement action," wrote Deborah Chacona, the FEC reports analysis division's assistant staff director — although that may hardly prod two men in Jefferson and Jackson who are already serving 13- and 2 1/2-year prison terms respectively.

For the past several years, Jefferson's committee has routinely campaign finance reports weeks or even months after federal deadlines, records show. A representative could not immediately be reached for comment.

Jefferson's most recent committee disclosure indicates his committee was still saddled through June 30 with nearly $239,000 in debt, including outstanding loan payments to several banks and Jefferson himself. As part of its investigation into Jefferson both offering and accepting bribes, the FBI found $90,000 in cash stuffed into his freezer next to a box of frozen pie crusts. Originally sentenced in 2009, he began serving his sentence in 2012 after an appeal failed.

Jackson hasn't filed a campaign disclosure yet this year, according to federal records.

In August, his campaign treasurer, Vicky Pasley, wrote a letter to FEC Chairman Ellen Weintraub informing her that she had resigned from Jackson's campaign. Pasley told Weintraub she has no knowledge of how Jackson's reports were prepared and "there is no possibility whatsoever nor will there ever been a possibility that I could file any report for this committee."

Jackson's committee last reported — on Nov. 26, 2012 — having $105,703 in available cash and no debt.

The former congressman and son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson admitted stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his campaign account to fund vacations and luxury purchases, including furs and Rolex watches.