Good news! Jesse Jackson, Jr. might not have committed enough felonies to lose pension

Jesse Jackson Jr. resigned over the holiday weekend, thus ending my fun and triggering a February primary for his seat which might feature an honest-to-Axelrod child predator, among other lunatics. Not that Jesse Jackson Jr. wasn’t a lunatic. And that has nothing to do with the alleged bipolar disorder he claims he has that conveniently allowed him to sit out the campaign. He did naked karate. In a Turkish bathhouse. In front of people.

But whatever. The assumption is that Jackson Jr. resigned because of an impending indictment, and only when Congress agreed to pay him long-term disability, which means we’d pay him for doing less work than we were already paying him to do. The catch was that he would probably lose his pension because, obviously, if you’re a felon and in Congress you probably shouldn’t also get your pension.

But see, that last part was an assumption. And when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.

Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned from Congress last week and acknowledged he was the subject of a federal investigation, could be eligible for an annual pension estimated at $45,000, but that benefit would be lost if he was convicted of one of several public corruption felonies…

Jackson has not been charged with a crime. He said in his resignation letter that he was aware of the ongoing federal investigation into his activities and was doing his best to cooperate with investigators and accept responsibility for his “mistakes.”

The key here is the plea bargain he’s likely negotiating. Congress recently expanded the number of crimes that could result in an elected official losing his or her pension, but the crimes for which this can be leveled as a punishment are still very specific: things like tax evasion, soliciting campaign donations illegally, etc. Jackson might have done something illegal, but that’s not to say that he did any of these specific things or that he will admit to them if he did. He could craft a bargain that would have him pleading to specific charges that don’t include the kind of felonies he could lose his pension for, and unless he’s out there money laundering right now, we could be on the hook to pay him up to $45K per year. Combined with long-term disability he might have negotiated in the process of submitting his resignation, and you’re talking about a pretty comfortable future.

At least comfortable enough to afford more Rolexes.

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