By Sophia Tareen-Associated Press
CHICAGO | Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who has largely avoided the public eye of late, said in a rare interview Saturday that he is a public servant, not a perfect one, and didn’t rule out a future run at higher office.
Mr. Jackson, who has been dogged by links to the corruption case against former Illinois Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich and questions about his own relationship with a female “social acquaintance,” told The Associated Press that he continually struggles with his “personal shortcomings.”
That includes mending his family relationships over the “immensely personal matter” of the female acquaintance and assessing his political ambitions, which once included Chicago mayor or U.S. senator.
“Every one of us has erred in their personal lives and while I don’t claim to be a perfect servant, I’m a public servant,” Mr. Jackson told the AP. “Oftentimes, we carry with us the burdens of our personal shortcomings even as we struggle to articulate and clarify a message that helps other people. That’s what I dedicated my life to.”
The congressman spoke to the AP after delivering a rousing Christmas message to hundreds of detainees at Cook County Boot Camp along with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson. It was an unusual public appearance for the congressman.
He has repeatedly denied interview requests since 2008, when Blagojevich was charged with trying to auction off President Obama‘s old U.S. Senate seat to the highest bidder, and Mr. Jackson acknowledged that he was named in the criminal complaint as a potential Senate candidate.
During the trial, prosecutors said the state’s former international trade director told them Mr. Jackson was at a meeting where a businessman discussed fundraising for Blagojevich and Mr. Jackson‘s desire for the seat. Also, Blagojevich‘s brother, Robert, testified that the same businessman had offered to raise up to $6 million in exchange for Mr. Jackson‘s appointment.
Mr. Jackson hasn’t been charged and has denied wrongdoing. But political experts say his political future could hinge on the outcome of Blagojevich‘s corruption retrial in April. The former governor, who denied wrongdoing, was convicted earlier this year on one count of lying to the FBI.
Asked if he was worried about the political fallout of the retrial, he said, “Preparing a case against Blagojevich is not a case against me.”
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