Former Congressman, And Convicted Felon, Seeks To Return To Congress
Mel Reynolds was a member of Congress for two years, from 1993 to 1995, when he was forced to resign after being convicted of several sex-related charges, including having sex with an underage campaign aide. While in prison, he was also convicted of several charges related to campaign finance fraud. Reynolds was replaced in Congress by Jesse Jackson Jr., who resigned last week amid scandals of his own. Now, Reynolds is among those seeking return to Congress:
Disgraced former U.S. Rep. Mel Reynolds said he will ask voters to focus on his congressional experience rather than his state and federal criminal record as he announced his bid today for the seat held by Jesse Jackson Jr., who has resigned.
At a downtown hotel news conference, Reynolds acknowledged having made “mistakes” in the past. For his campaign, he will try to assume the mantle of an incumbent while also seeking redemption from voters. Red and white campaign signs urged voters to “re-elect” Reynolds “so he can finish the work” while another stark red sign with white letters said simply: “Redemption.”
Reynolds sought to downplay his previous convictions, contending “it was almost 18, 20 years ago” and that his past crimes “shouldn’t be a life sentence.”
“The fact of the matter is, nobody’s perfect,” Reynolds said, adding that voters should “look at the entire history of me,” including what people do “after they make mistakes.” Reynolds, however, stopped short of acknowledging guilt for any of his crimes.
Though Reynolds sought to focus on his experience in Congress, where he served on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, his entry into the contest was yet another sorry reminder of the congressional representation that voters on the South Side and south suburbs have had with their last three representatives.
Reynolds replaced Gus Savage, a controversial and outspoken congressman who was condemned by the House Ethics Committee amid allegations of sexual misconduct involving a Peace Corps volunteer while he was on an official congressional visit to Zaire.
Not withstanding the tendency of voters in this district to elect less than savory characters, is it really possible that they’d put a man like Reynolds back in office? I’d like to say no, but it was less than a month a go that they gave Jackson an overwhelming victory on Election Day. So, I guess anything is possible.