WASHINGTON — Like his millionaire father, Jesse Jackson Jr. has done well for himself.
The 36-year-old U.S. congressman until last month owned four homes, including a $550,000 townhouse in Dupont Circle, and has held at least $335,000 — and perhaps as much as $1 million — in stocks, bonds and cash.
Jesse Jackson Jr.
But also like his father, the younger Jackson has had difficulty fully disclosing financial information on public forms as required by federal law.
Jackson Sr., for example, failed to report to the IRS a six-figure payment to his mistress on the tax returns of his tax-exempt charity that employed her.
Now, WorldNetDaily has learned that his son failed to report real-estate assets and liabilities, as well as positions he’s held on the boards of two for-profit businesses run by the Jackson family.
Last month, Rep. Jackson, D-Ill., quietly amended all his annual financial disclosure statements to show that he served as a director of Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Productions Inc., a Chicago-based TV and music production company, over the past five years.
After a Chicago reporter phoned to ask about the omission, Jackson corrected the public records in a Feb. 6 letter to the House clerk. Jackson said the reporter’s call was prompted by “the recent increase in media scrutiny of Rev. Jackson’s financial interests.”
But that’s not the only corporate position Jackson omitted from his public filings, an investigation by WorldNetDaily has found.
Since joining Congress in 1996, he also has served as director of Jacqueline Inc., a speaker’s bureau that books Jackson Sr.’s speeches and media appearances and collects fees for them.
The Chicago-based company is run by the congressman’s mother, Jacqueline “Jackie” Lavinia Jackson.
Jackson asked his mother to remove him from the board and all corporate filings. In a Feb. 26 letter to him, she agreed to do so by March 1.
But Jackson has yet to amend his financial statements by adding Jacqueline Inc. to Sec. VIII of his official disclosure forms, which requires members of Congress to report all positions, paid or unpaid, so that voters know of any potential conflicts of interest
they may have.
“We will check with financial disclosure in Congress to see if we need to amend previous statements,” Jackson spokesman Frank Watkins told WorldNetDaily. “If so, we will.”
Watkins insists Jackson received no compensation from either Jesse L. Jackson Sr. Productions or Jacqueline Inc. since 1995, when he first ran for office.
“This is really much ado about nothing,” he said. “There’s nothing involved here.”
A search of Illinois corporate filings by WorldNetDaily turned up another Jackson entity not disclosed on his financial statements: The Sandra and Jesse Jackson Jr. Foundation.
The nonprofit — set up in the name of Jackson and his wife, Sandi Stevens Jackson — was incorporated in April 1999, state records show.
But, oddly, no president or treasurer is named. Neal A. Baker is listed as an agent. The foundation has a Chicago address, but no phone listing.
Oh yeah, those condos
Jackson’s financial statements have been riddled with errors and discrepancies from the start. He has had to file five amendments in five years.
In a June 1999 letter to the House clerk, for instance, Jackson admitted failing to disclose on his 1995, 1996, 1997 and 1998 forms that he owns a rental property in Washington, financed by First Union Mortgage in Raleigh, N.C. The condo, valued at $50,000 to $100,000, has earned him annual rental income of between $5,000 and $15,000.
Watkins told WorldNetDaily that Jackson is renting the unit to a “relative.”
Also, Jackson omitted from his 1998 disclosure form a second Washington condo, this one valued at between $100,000 and $250,000. First Chicago Mortgage holds the note to it. He no longer lives there, so he should have reported the liability.
Jackson blamed a “typographical error” for the oversight.
He sold the two-bedroom condo last month, Watkins says, for a sum he’ll have to report in his 2002 financial statement. Jackson’s next statement, covering his financial transactions in calendar year 2000, is due May 15.
In October 1998, Jackson and his wife, who worked in various federal jobs under the Clinton administration, bought a half-million-dollar home in Dupont Circle. Watkins says they took out a mortgage.
At the same time, they sold between $200,000 and $700,000 in mutual-fund assets mainly to retire a 30-year mortgage on a second home in Chicago — an 80-year-old refurbished brick two-story.
“When he purchased the Dupont Circle home,” Watkins said, “he paid off the Chicago home.”
‘Much to my surprise’
Jackson claims he thought he successfully divested himself from all family business after he was elected. In the case of the production company, he says he didn’t even know it was still in operation.
“I thought that Jesse Jackson Productions Inc., as well as my position in it, had been dissolved,” he said in his Feb. 6 amendment. “Much to my surprise, I was informed otherwise.”
“It was news to him,” Jackson’s chief of staff Kenneth Edmonds stressed in an interview with WorldNetDaily.
He says Jackson thought the company shut down after his father’s TV show was canceled in the ’80s.
But the company, also know as JLJ Productions Inc. (see letterhead), has handled other projects since then.
Recent clients include black recording artists like The Spaniels, a ’50s doo-wopp group based in Washington. The company produced its 40th anniversary album.
And Jacqueline Inc., which until 1989 was called Personalities International Inc., has been the source of much of the Jackson family income.
In 1987, the latest public figures, Jackson Sr. earned a salary of $192,090 from Personalities International, according to a financial disclosure statement he filed
with the Federal Election Commission in 1988, when he ran for president.
His wife and sons also earned a salary ranging from $50,000 to $100,000 from the company, the FEC filing says.
The company, started in 1984, is run by Jackie Jackson and governed by a board of directors composed of Jackson’s two oldest sons — Jesse Jr. and Jonathan.
Illinois corporate filings list the addresses of both the production company and booking firm on S. Constance Avenue in Chicago.
Asked why the Jacksons kept the congressman on their board of directors if he took no part in the business and wasn’t paid, Watkins replied: “The purpose was for the reverend and Mrs. Jackson to include their sons in what they were doing.”
$10,000 speaking fee
But according to the congressman, he was kept in the dark about all company goings-on — to the point where he didn’t even know that one of the companies was still in business.
Watkins explained that they didn’t include him in meetings anymore, because “there wasn’t any business being conducted that concerned him.”
Before he was elected, Jackson Jr. regularly attended board meetings, he says, even though he lived in Washington.
“The board meetings consisted mainly of conference calls that dealt with business concerns,” said Watkins, who worked as Jackson Sr.’s presidential campaign spokesman in 1988.
On his financial statements, Jackson Jr. doesn’t list any payments in lieu of speaking fees to charity.
Watkins says Jackson has received no honoraria from speeches — although Jackson reportedly wanted $10,000 to speak at a 1996 NAACP banquet in Charleston, S.C., an NAACP spokesman last year told the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. The group paid Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell $3,500 instead.