A lawyer for U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. says the congressman is the "Senate Candidate 5" mentioned in the federal corruption complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.
The governor, a second-term Democrat, was arrested and accused of scheming to enrich himself by selling President-elect Barack Obama's open Senate seat for cash or a lucrative job for himself or his wife.
According to the 76-page federal complaint, Blagojevich "stated he might be able to cut a deal with Senate Candidate 5 that provided" the governor with something "tangible up front," presumably campaign money.
In an afternoon news conference Wednesday, Jackson said he did not approach the governor about an inappropriate deal or authorize an emissary to do so. He said that the U.S. attorney's office indicated to him Tuesday that he is "not a target of this investigation."
"I want to make this fact plan: I reject and denounce pay-to-play politics, and have no involvement whatsoever in any wrongdoing," Jackson said.
"I thought, mistakenly, that the process was fair," he said.
Jackson, a seven-term House member and son of civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, did not confirm that he is Candidate No. 5 during the press conference. He declined to take questions from the media on the advice of his attorney.
Jackson told reporters that he met with Blagojevich on Monday to discuss the position and present his qualifications in an appropriate way. He said he "thought that the governor was evaluating me fairly."
Jackson learned he was mentioned in the complaint against Blagojevich the night before the governor's arrest on Tuesday, his attorney said.
On Oct. 31st, according to the complaint, Blagojevich indicated during a conversation that he had been approached by an emissary of Senate Candidate No. 5.
"We were approached 'pay to play,'" the governor allegedly said. "That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him a senator."
There is no independent evidence that Jackson or an emissary approached the governor about an improper deal, according to officials.
Jackson's Chicago-based lawyer, James D. Montgomery Sr., said, "politicians and fundraisers do some very strange things from time to time. I wouldn't put it past someone to be purporting to represent Jesse without authority."