Who’s next from Chicago’s “rotten borough”?

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. represents Illinois’ Second Congressional District, which consists of portions of the South Side of Chicago and its suburbs. The district isn’t “rotten,” but the representatives it sends to Congress sure are.

Jackson himself is reportedly negotiating a plea deal with the federal government that would end his 17-year career in Congress. The deal would involve pleading guility to charges of misuse of campaign funds; repayment of contributions that were converted to personal use, such as home furnishings, improper travel and gifts; and probably some jail time.

Before electing Jackson, the Second District was represented by “Swell” Mel Reynolds. In 1994, a Cook County grand jury indicted him on counts of criminal sexual assault, child pornography, and obstruction of justice. His accuser was a 16-year-old campaign worker. But these charges didn’t worry his constituents; they returned him to Congress later that year (as they returned Jackson, Jr. to Congress this year).

Reynolds resigned from Congress in 1995, after a jury found him guilty of having sex with the underage campaign worker. Reynolds later was convicted of federal charges of bank and campaign fraud. He remained in jail until President Clinton commuted his sentence in January 2001.

Reynolds’ predecessor, Gus Savage, was also rotten. As James Taranto reminds us, the House Ethics Committee investigated allegations against Savage of sexual misconduct involving a Peace Corps volunteer while Savage was on an official congressional visit to Zaire. The subsequent public report condemned his behavior but did not recommend punishment, citing Savage’s effort to apologize to the volunteer. For his part, Savage blamed the whole thing on the “white racist” press, claiming that “Black leadership is under attack in this county, and I’m the No. 1 target.”

Savage was reelected in 1990, but lost to Reynolds two years later in the Democratic primary.

Who, one wonders, will the Second District send to Congress next, and what crimes is he or she likely to commit?

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