Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in talks with feds for plea deal - FOX 32 News Chicago

Jesse Jackson Jr. willing to give up House seat to remain free

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

FOX Chicago News has confirmed that Jesse Jackson Jr. is willing to give up his seat in the 2nd congressional district to remain a free man. Sources say that was part of the discussion Jackson Jr. had with federal agents when he met with them months before checking into an Arizona clinic after complaining of exhaustion.

Though Jackson Jr. has been trying to make a deal with federal investigators to come clean about his alleged misuse of campaign funds, but has not yet entered a plea.

The congressman represents Illinois' 2nd district, and won his re-election bid on Tuesday night. Jackson did not run a single campaign ad before the 2012 election, and won 60% of the vote. But his constituents may soon find themselves back at the polling booth if he pleads guilty.

Jackson is being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder. He has not made a public appearance for months, and his team announced his medical leave of absence in June.

A source told FOX Chicago News that Jackson Jr. has not admitted to any wrongdoing but has been asking the feds if there's anything he needs to do.  The congressman is accused of misusing campaign funds, reportedly using the money to decorate his Washington D.C. home and possibly spending $40,000 of those funds to buy a watch – a Rolex - for a female friend.

In that meeting, Jackson Jr. was asked about his campaign funds and if he spent a large amount. A source told FOX Chicago's Darlene Hill that Jackson soon starting asking questions like "what's this all about?" and "what if the money is put back?" During that meeting, Jackson kept saying he didn't do anything wrong.

If Jackson Jr. does admit guilt, he will have to vacate his position. An individual cannot be guilty of a crime and hold a political office.

Some of his constituents aren't surprised that he may plead guilty.

One woman said she believed Jackson entered the Mayo Clinic because he believed he might be arrested. She said she didn't vote for the congressman, but assumes others did because of the simple fact that he's popular.

She thinks there should be another election, because people voted for someone that shouldn't even be in office. But she knows elections are expensive, and suggested a congressman be appointed.

Brian Woodworth, Jackson's Republican opponent, said Thursday that the popular perspective is that Chicago politics have always been ripe with corruption, whether you live in or out of Chicago. He says people are desensitized to allegations of criminal activity until the accused has had their day in court because of that belief.

Woodworth said his decision to run again remains to be determined, because he wants to wait and see what happens. He isn't going to close that door.

Another Jackson opponent, Marcus Lewis, said he is extremely frustrated by the Jackson situation. He told FOX Chicago News that a deal should have been made before the 2012 election.

Lewis thought the constituency made a grave error in re-electing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. He said they knew about the current federal and congressional investigations and the fact that they put him back in office any way is a travesty.

Rep. Jackson Jr. is also being investigated by the House Ethics Committee for his alleged role in the pay-to-play politics involving former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted for corruption this year.

Former Rod Blagojevich attorney Sam Adam Jr. said Jackson needs to come clean about whatever he knows regarding the pay-to-play politics. He also believes that when the accused plea out, the federal government is usually willing to "wheel and deal" with the guilty party. He also believes Jackson will have to vacate his congressional seat.

Drew Peterson defense attorney Steve Greenberg joined Good Day Chicago over the phone, and clarified some aspects of the possible plea deal Thursday morning.

SEE: Peterson defense attorney Steve Greenberg explains possible plea deal

Lewis said he is angered by the fact that Jackson would now possibly want to come forward with a plea deal, two days after the election. He said he thinks this has been planned from the beginning, and calls the way this situation has been handled "shameful."

"He's a dirty individual," Lewis said. "He seems to think he can con his way out of everything appeared that's just not going to happen here."

Lewis is thinking strongly on running again if there is a new election, despite the strong following Jackson seems to have even though he faces such charges.

"There's a machine that will vote for a person that is in his coffin or on his deathbed, so it doesn't matter," Lewis said. "They intend to keep that seat. They want to make sure that Jackson is able to escape. I just believe there's not going to be an escape this time."

While the congressman works on his health, sources say Jackson Jr. is regaining his strength, but needs more rest and still has days where the congressman cries uncontrollably. Sources say, that lets them know he's in no position now to strike a deal.

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