In a press conference this afternoon, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) — “Senate Candidate 5” mentioned in the federal corruption complaint against Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D-IL) — denied any wrongdoing in the controversy surrounding Blagojevich and claimed that he never had a “pay-to-play” conversation with the governor about filling President-elect Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Jackson Jr. did not deny his interest in filling the seat but said he “mistakenly” believed that Blagojevich was evaluating his candidacy for the seat “based upon credentials and qualifications”:
JACKSON JR.: In the 13 years I served in the Congress of the United States, I only missed two votes and no other Democrat and no Republican in the Congress of the United States who can say that. I thought — mistakenly — that the governor was going to make a decision in the best interest of our state as well as our nation. I thought — mistakenly — that the governor was considering me based on 13 years of hard work on behalf of the people of our state as well as our nation.