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Is Jackson 'No. 5'? Plus: Blago Deputy Quits

POSTED: 03:35 PM ET, 12/10/2008 by Derek Kravitz

The mysterious "Senate Candidate No. 5" mentioned in Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's corruption case -- the politician who the governor claimed had an "emissary" offer up $1 million in fundraising money for a vacant Senate seat -- could be Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., the South Side Chicago Democrat who is the son of the famous civil rights leader.

Jackson, 43, told ABC News he is not sure if he is No. 5 but said he is "not a target of this investigation" and federal prosecutors in Chicago have "asked me to come in and share with them my insights and thoughts about the selection process."

Anonymous federal law enforcement sources confirmed to ABC's Brian Ross and NBC News' Pete Wiliams that Jackson was indeed No. 5. (Jackson is set to hold a news conference at 4:15 p.m. Eastern.)

In an interview with ABC, Jackson said he plans to meet with his attorney but denied any wrongdoing, saying no one on his staff would have offered any type of payment to Blagojevich.

"It is impossible for someone on my behalf to have a conversation that would suggest any type of quid pro quo or any payments or offers," Jackson told ABC News. "An impossibility to an absolute certainty."

Jackson's newly hired Chicago lawyer, James Montgomery Sr., said Jackson was "completely guiltless," adding that "there is nothing there to implicate the congressman," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Blagojevich recounted an incident Dec. 4 where an "emissary" to No. 5 approached him sometime before Halloween and offered to "pay to play," according to a federal wiretap.

"That, you know, he'd raise me 500 grand. An emissary came. Then the other guy would raise a million, if I made him (the candidate) a senator," Blagojevich is quoted as saying.

That same day, Blagojevich said he was "elevating" No. 5 on his list of prospective candidates and arranging a meeting "in the next few days."

Jackson met with Blagojevich Monday, according to the Chicago Tribune, and discussed his credentials.

Jackson, who has served 13 years in Congress, has "mounted the most highly visible campaign among several people who are being considered for the Senate post," the Tribune reported. And Blagojevich called Jackson "a very strong candidate in a very strong position" for the job, but quickly cautioned that no one should "read too much into this because I haven't made up my mind."

But by Wednesday, Jackson was distancing himself from Blagojevich, saying that before Monday he hadn't met with the governor in four years.

Meanwhile, Blagojevich's spokeswoman Kelley Quinn announced that Deputy Gov. Bob Greenlee resigned today. Quinn did not cite a reason for Greenlee's resignation.

Greenlee, 33, a former administration aide, was promoted to be a top aide to Blagojevich in June, replacing former Deputy Gov. Sheila Nix.

"Senate Candidate No. 4" in the federal complaint is allegedly a deputy governor of Illinois. Whoever No. 4 is, he or she is apparently a close aide to Blagojevich; the candidate is referenced as someone the governor could "count on...if things get hot, to give (the seat) up and let me parachute over there."

By Derek Kravitz |  December 10, 2008; 3:35 PM ET Blagojevich Scandal
Previous: GAO Report on Bailout Cites Oversight, Transition Concerns | Next: Jackson Denies Wrongdoing, Lawmakers Criticize TARP, Shay's Campaign Manager Investigated

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