House ethics panel delays Blagojevich Sentate seat probe of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

As I've said from the beginning, I have done nothing wrong, nor have I been accused of doing anything wrong...Everyone knew that I was interested in the Senate appointment. I was deeply honored and humbled to receive the support of public officials, organizations and citizens from across the state. My efforts and actions were all public, ethical and legal.”

— Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

The U.S. House ethics committee announced today it is holding off on a probe into whether Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) sought to win a Senate seat by offering to raise money for ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich, citing the ongoing federal investigation.

The ethics panel also disclosed for the first time that congressional ethics investigators alleged Jackson used taxpayer-funded staff members in his Washington and Chicago offices to mount a “public campaign” to get the Senate appointment from Blagojevich late last year. The Office of Congressional Ethics’ board approved a report this summer saying that “in doing so” Jackson “may have violated federal law and House rules concerning the proper use” of his office funds.

The panel indicated it typically puts its probes on hold when asked to by law enforcement to avoid interfering with prosecutors, and it disclosed a Justice Department letter requesting the committee hold off until after Blagojevich's trial. That is scheduled for next year.