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Sound familiar? Reformer succeeds disgraced congressman only to leave in disgrace

3-2-04 Office Congressman Jesse JacksJr. 17926 S. Halsted Homewood IL.  Former Congressman current candidate mel Reynolds holds press conference

3-2-04 Office of Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., 17926 S. Halsted, Homewood IL. Former Congressman and current candidate mel Reynolds holds a press conference in the parking lot in front of current Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.'s south suburban office. (KEITH HALE/Sun-Times)

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Updated: December 24, 2012 7:17AM



A young self-styled reformer is elected to succeed a South Side congressman whose career ended in scandal — and years later quits himself amid disgrace.

If that sounds familiar, it should.

It’s an ongoing storyline in the South Side and south suburban 2nd Congressional District.

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. on Wednesday became the second consecutive congressman from the district to resign in the middle of trouble with prosecutors, leading to a special election to choose a successor.

If he pleads guilty, Jackson will be the second congressman in a row from the district to be convicted of a crime.

He is already the third consecutive 2nd Congressional District representative to be embroiled in a sex scandal.

With a promise of “new leadership, new direction,” Jackson succeeded Mel Reynolds, who stepped down in 1995 after he was convicted of sexual misconduct, child pornography and obstruction of justice relating to an affair he had with a campaign volunteer who was a minor. Reynolds was also convicted of federal charges of bank fraud and lying to the FEC about misuse of campaign funds.

“It’s a sad night,” Jackson said when Reynolds announced he was stepping down. “The people of the 2nd District have had their hope dashed.”

Three years earlier, Reynolds — a former Rhodes Scholar who had worked for the Rev. Jesse Jackson — ousted veteran congressman Gus Savage. Savage was never charged with any crime, but he was the target of a House Ethics Committee inquiry into charges that he made improper sexual advances toward a young woman on a 1989 trip to Zaire.

The fiery Savage — who was criticized for anti-Semitism and racially charged remarks — described the allegations as racially motivated.

Reynolds blasted Savage for “race baiting” and being “a national embarrassment.”



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