Jackson is one of 16 Democrats now running and, despite being the son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, had been lagging in the money race. Until now.
The last-minute expenditure, which comes just a week before the June 28 primary, drew immediate fire from other contenders in the race. The expenditure was first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times.
“It infuriates me that we see this kind of outside money coming into our district,” said Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd. “Cryptocurrency is not an issue that is important to the people of the 1st District. Our constituents need a leader they can trust.” Jackson, she added, “has already sold his seat to a billionaire.”
Nonetheless, Dowell conceded, the outside funds allow “Jackson to outspend me and everyone else in the race.”
“Jackson has allowed billionaire special interests to infiltrate this race despite lip-service to voters that he’ll be a voice for them in Congress,” added another contender, state Sen. Jackie Collins, D-Chicago. “In a district struggling from decades of economic disinvestment, we don’t need a congressman who’s beholden to financial special interests or a candidate with the nerve to campaign on crypto regulation as the top issue in our communities.”
Jackson’s spokesman said he is not available for comment and asked that all questions on this matter be submitted in writing. The campaign as of this afternoon had not responded to those questions.
Protect Our Future says its purpose is to spur preparedness for the next pandemic. Indeed, Jackson’s campaign website lists pandemic preparedness as its second top issue.
But listed first is cryptocurrency. The website says Jackson wants to improve regulation of the emerging industry and believes steps must be taken to ensure minorities get a chance to participate. It adds that he supports a pending bill that would do that sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., who has endorsed Jackson.
Protect Our Future had spent $22 million as of last month, according to a report then in The Hill, which covers Capitol Hill news. All has been spent in districts that, like the Illinois 1st, are considered safe Democratic turf, with any political opposition in the primary and not the general election. The group’s main financial donor is Samuel Bankman-Fried, founder of Bahamas-based FTX, a crypto exchange platform whose U.S. unit is based in Chicago’s West Loop.
News of the $500,000 TV buy came just a couple of days after populist leader U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont endorsed Jackson, saying that billionaires and corporate interests don’t want people such as Jackson in Congress.
Among unanswered questions about the flap is who made the connection between Jackson and Protect Our Future. One possible link is Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, D-Chicago. He failed to respond to requests for comment, but the PAC reportedly has spent $150,000 on mail pieces promoting him this election year, even though he’s unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Other comment came from candidate Jonathan Swain, who predicted that district voters will see through the last-minute ads and asserted that voters are more concerned about crime, health care and health than crypto.
Another leading candidate, county workforce training official Karin Norington-Reaves, declined to comment. She has gained from an independent expenditure on her behalf by another group, Forward Progress, that like Jackson’s is running on cable TV in the district.
The spot begins by introducing Jonathan Jackson as Jesse Jackson’s son. It then goes on to say he’ll focus on creating jobs and more affordable housing—and making sure America takes the right steps to protect the public’s health.
UPDATE: Jackson finally is out with a brief statement: “By definition, an independent expenditure is just that, independent. We did not seek it and we cannot control it.”
“I am running for Congress because the people of the 1st District need the opportunities, jobs and wages that are created through innovation and technology, as well as access to health care, quality education and safe and economically viable neighborhoods. My message centers on ‘gas, guns and groceries.’ “
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June 20, 2022 at 10:54PM