Giovana Huidobro, the woman at the center of the scandal: Nightclub hostess, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s "social acquaintance."
The scandal now surrounding Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. is mostly a scandal about money. But as with so many other political imbroglios, there is also a woman in the story.
She is Giovana Huidobro, a hostess at Ozio lounge on M Street NW, whom -- according to a new report from the Chicago Sun-Times -- the FBI interviewed last year while trying to determine if the Chicago Democrat asked a major fundraiser to pay then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for appointing him to a U.S. Senate seat.
Why Huidobro? Because the fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, told investigators he twice paid for Huidobro to fly from Washington to Chicago at Jackson's request, the Sun-Times reported.
After the story broke Tuesday, Jackson released a statement strongly denying Nayak's claim that the congressman asked him to offer Blagojevich millions in exchange for the Senate seat. He called the allegations old news and "preposterous."
As for the Huidibro connection, though, Jackson said it was "a private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago," and asked that reporters respect their privacy.
But who is she? Colleagues and patrons described her to us as a petite, eye-catching Latin American blonde whose presence at Ozio's front door was a potent lure at the martini-and-cigar bar that's seen better days. (A big hit when it opened in the mid-'90s just ahead of the cocktail revival, Ozio lost much of its buzz as newer nightspots opened.) Her unusual name Google-Trended in a big way once the Sun-Times story hit, and desktop detectives quickly found some impressive swimsuit shots on a Peruvian Web site. Home, though, is far from Capitol Hill or the D.C. club scene: She lives in a modest brick-front townhouse in Germantown with what appears to be a Spanish-speaking family group, neighbors told us -- older parents, grown children, a few small kids. She's a runner, sometimes seen walking a little dog.
Huidobro declined to talk to the Chicago paper, and we couldn't catch up with her Wednesday. When we asked about her at Ozio, a manager just smirked at us. "I don't follow the news," he said.
The Reliable Source
| September 23, 2010; 1:05 AM ET
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