Jesse Jackson Jr. plans memoir

The former Democratic representative from Illinois, who's recently made headlines for misusing at least $750,000 in campaign funds, is planning to write a memoir to 'clear up his legacy.'

M. Spencer Green/AP
Former Democratic congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. speaks at a Democratic primary election party.

It didn’t take long for Jesse Jackson Jr. to follow the footsteps of other disgraced politicians – right to a publisher.

That’s right, the former Democratic representative from Illinois – who’s recently been plastered across headlines for misusing at least $750,000 in campaign funds over seven years – is writing a memoir. 

According to the Chicago Tribune, Jackson Jr. is writing a memoir to “clear up his legacy.”

“He has nothing else to do right now,” the source told the Tribune. “He's desperately trying to change the narrative of his life story.”

The former congressman and son of the Rev. Jesse Jackson pleaded guilty Feb. 20 to misusing more than $750,000 in campaign money over the course of a seven-year shopping spree in which he bought such items as a Rolex watch, furs, a cruise, celebrity memorabilia, and two stuffed elk heads. He will be sentenced June 28 and is facing up to 57 months in prison.

In the meantime, it seems, he’s turned to pen and paper to begin his redemption. It wouldn’t be the first time a disgraced politician took the familiar route.

There’s Arnold Schwarzenegger, of course, who came out with a doorstopper of a book, titled “Total Recall," after news emerged of his affair with his housekeeper, Mildred Baena, with whom he had an affair and fathered a child.

And from Jackson Jr.’s own state comes the example of disgraced former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who wrote “The Governor,” in which he blamed his downfall on prosecutors and political enemies, while awaiting trial. He was eventually convicted of trying to sell a US Senate seat in exchange for campaign cash.

That’s the illustrious band of characters Jackson Jr. joins in his latest writing venture (it’s not his first – ironically, his first book was a collaboration with his father on a personal finance book, “It’s About the Money.”)

The only problem – Jackson Jr. hasn’t yet found a publisher and industry watchers say it won’t be easy.

“Had he not been accused of a crime, and now... pled guilty to a crime, there might have been a market for a book from him. But now he’s tainted. It’s going to be tough,” publicist Glenn Selig told CBS Chicago. Selig helped former Gov. Rod Blagojevich get his book "The Governor" published before he was convicted of corruption charges.

“To get big money you'd need a publisher who is really, really interested in his story,” Gail Ross, a lawyer and literary agent in Washington, told the Chicago Tribune. “Most people I work with don't want to line the pockets of a crook.”

If recent history is any indication, however, we think it’s just a matter of time before Jackson Jr. lands a publisher – and lands in a bookstore near you.

Husna Haq is a Monitor contributor.

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