The news of June 26, 2015 brings a familiar face back into the ignominious circle of Illinois politicians under either investigation or indictment.
Federal investigators have announced that that former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds has been indicted for failing to file federal income tax returns.
As Thomas J. Gradel and Dick Simpson write in Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism, and Criminality, Reynolds has had good reason to keep his attorneys on speed dial since early in his political career.
Mel Reynolds has a rare distinction in the chronicle of Illinois corruption: he was convicted in both state and federal courts in the United States and overseas in Zimbabwe. In 1992 he was convicted in Cook County Criminal Court of criminal sexual assault, child pornography, and obstruction of justice for having sex with a volunteer campaign worker when she was only sixteen.
Reynolds had served less than three years in Congress when he was convicted. Facing a move by his congressional colleagues to oust him, he resigned his seat. But it wasn’t the end of his troubles, and it wasn’t the last time a congressman from the Second District would be accused of campaign and sexual misconduct. Democrat Jesse L. Jackson Jr., who later would be convicted of a felony and resign from Congress, won a special general election in 1995 to serve out the remaining thirteen months of Reynolds’s second term.
In related news, Jesse L. Jackson Jr. was released this week from Baltimore halfway house to serve the remainder of his Federal sentence on fraud charges in home confinement. In 2013 Jackson was convicted for taking around $750,000 from his campaign funds and spending that money on personal items including a cashmere cape.