back to work through the Civilian Conservation Corps. The press didn’t even come. I spoke at the Kankakee County NAACP’s Freedom Dinner (and made a similar speech on the House floor) updating them about the largest jobs plan in Illinois – building the Abraham Lincoln National Airport. Chicago cameras were in Kankakee, but the only thing they reported was that I said I would be “vindicated” once the legal process was completed. I’ve written several op-ed pieces that neither the Chicago Sun-Times nor the Chicago Tribune would agree to publish. I’ve issued numerous press releases and made several speeches on substantive issues on the House floor, but not a word was reported in the press in Chicago.
Why have I been mostly silent in the press about the Blagojevich case? As I have said repeatedly, out of respect for the criminal justice system and other investigative processes, I have allowed those matters to proceed, with my full cooperation, without seeking to influence the process through the media. Now the Blagojevich trials are over, the ethics process has finally resumed and I have been able to tell my story to the Ethics Committee. I intend to respect that process until it’s completed.
More strongly than ever I believe in and am committed to the American ideal of “innocent until proven guilty.” But that presumption of innocence has not been afforded me over the last four years. In fact, one local news reporter’s interpretation and private response to my Press Secretary was, “clearly the investigators don’t believe Jackson.” That was her personal opinion and very subjective interpretation, not the objective, fair and impartial stance we should expect from an American reporter. What is “clear” is that the Ethics Committee didn’t choose the third option; and what the Committee actually said in their news release is this: “The Committee notes that the mere fact of conducting further review of a referral, and any mandatory disclosure of such further review, does not itself indicate that any violation has occurred, or reflect any judgment on behalf of the Committee.”
I can only hope and pray that the public and the voters in the 2nd Congressional District will be fair and do a better job than this reporter of granting me the courtesy of seeing me as “innocent until proven guilty” – interestingly enough, an idea that is usually reserved and only applied to someone who has actually been officially charged with a crime in an indictment. And I have not been charged with anything nor afforded the presumption of innocence!
The House Ethics Committee will continue their legal responsibility and I will continue to fully cooperate with them. And at the end of this process I still believe I will be vindicated.