Politics

Whistle-blower, documents: Ill. state workers forced to attend Pelosi, Jesse Jackson Jr. event on taxpayer dime

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

Documents and a whistle-blower affidavit obtained by The Daily Caller charge that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Illinois Democratic Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., and Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., participated in an unethical — and possibly illegal — effort to force 76 employees of an Illinois state agency to engage in political activity on the taxpayers’ dime.

According to the whistle-blower, Rev. Jackson also encouraged the government employees to load first-generation and low-income college students up with student loan debt — because Democrats in Congress, he allegedly promised, would eventually pass laws to forgive that debt later. “[T]hose people will continue to vote Democratic,” Jackson Sr. said, according to the whistle-blower.

On March 3, Pelosi flew to Chicago to endorse Rep. Jackson Jr., 17 days ahead of a heated March 20 Democratic primary he later won. Pelosi was scheduled to make the endorsement at a press conference later in the day, after she participated in an hour-long “forum” hosted by the elder Jackson at the headquarters of his progressive Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

Pelosi politicized that forum, jumping the gun and endorsing Jackson Jr. earlier than planned.

“One of the reasons I am here, and I will do this following this wonderful meeting, is to publicly state my endorsement of Jesse Jackson Jr. for re-election,” Pelosi said at the Rainbow PUSH forum. “I do so with great pride. I remember when he came to the Congress with a great name and a great tradition of his parents. But he came and he made his own mark in the Congress from his own generation.”

Adam Andrzejewski, chairman of the For The Good of Illinois PAC and a former 2010 GOP gubernatorial candidate endorsed by Polish Solidarity movement founder Lech Walesa, told TheDC that a state government agency forcing workers to go the event was likely illegal. Even if it failed to violate any specific law, he said, the activity was undoubtedly unethical.

“Democrats in Illinois raised taxes by 67 percent and at the same time they are using taxpayer dollars and resources for blatantly political purposes,” Andrzejewski wrote in an email. “This is unethical, possibly illegal, and taxpayers, families, and seniors have a right to be outraged.”

Marcy Bailey, a 22-year-old who worked for the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) Corps on March 3, swore out an affidavit on August 9 describing what happened that day.

In the signed and notarized affidavit obtained by TheDC, Bailey said she “did not want to attend this event,” and charged that the Rainbow PUSH forum “was soon overflowing with negative political energy directed towards the Republican Party. The two [Pelosi and Jackson Sr.] discussed many adverse things about the Republican Party, using harsh, derogatory remarks, while they reminded their audience about what they called the wonderful things that the Democratic Party was doing for the people.”

“Although e-mails from an ISAC supervisor would lead one to believe that my attendance was optional, during phone calls from Sara Henschen, my regional coordinator, and from Kim Galvan, ISACorps manager, I was told that I ‘must attend,’” Bailey wrote in her affidavit. “Repeatedly, my supervisors told me that ‘without a prior conflicting commitment, your attendance is mandatory.’ I stated that I did not feel comfortable going, but my supervisors told me that I did have to go.”

Bailey explained how Galvan told her to report her travel hours to and from Chicago — “approximately five hours and 500 round trip miles” from her residence — on her time sheets so she would be paid for the time. The agency also reimbursed her and her fellow ISACorps employees for hotel rooms and meals. She also stated that her coworker, who drove to Chicago and back, “would have been reimbursed for mileage.”

She and her coworkers were told to arrive at Rainbow PUSH headquarters, according to her affidavit, by 9:30 a.m. that day even though the Pelosi event didn’t start until 10:00 a.m.

“When I arrived at the meeting location, our ISAC directors instructed us to go to the second floor and congregate in a side hallway outside of zwhere Jesse Jackson Sr. was speaking to a group of individuals, including candidates and other political figures that were being addressed as ‘judge’ and ‘senator,’” Bailey wrote. “With cameras flashing, Jesse Jackson Sr., candidates and politicians left the conference room, and we were staged to look like we were political supporters. In other words, we were used as props during a campaign season.”

The ISACorps workers then moved into the forum where Pelosi and Jackson Sr. were set to speak. Bailey wrote that the event began as a non-political gathering — a forum for Pelosi to see the ISACorps workers — but later became “largely a political rally, and there was no opportunity for those of us who were not there to participate in a political rally to leave without it being noticeable.”

“As the program continued, Nancy Pelosi endorsed Jesse Jackson Jr. for Congress,” Bailey continued. “No one from our state agency left the room or objected to our participation at a blatantly partisan political event, including my supervisor. I was fearful that any objection or other false move on my part would place my job in jeopardy. We were being videotaped and any disagreement would have left a record. I felt considerably isolated and intimidated by this. I felt sick to my stomach.”