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.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. lankyloo says:

    And he wasn’t even the worst person thinking of running for this seat….

  2. grumpy realist says:

    Remember, Jackson was the sentimental favorite, and about as controversial as a sofa pillow to the South Side. Financial shenanigans? Eh, more of the same stuff that everyone does. Sex crimes are a little too far even for our local sleeze-supporters.

  3. Barfour says:

    Shouldn’t convicted felons be barred from holding public office? In some countries they are.

  4. Neil Hudelson says:


    Why? If a person has paid their debt to society, why should they be barred from running for office?

    Now, should voters judge someone based on their past mistakes? Probably. And if they want to elect an idiot, that’s their mistake.

  5. Whitfield says:

    Considering most of the others in Congress, he would fit right in.

  6. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Glenn Reynolds (no relation, I believe) likes to play a little game called “Name That Party.” In neither the original article nor in Doug’s commentary is the former Congressman’s party affiliation specified.

    Gee, I wonder what party he belongs to, and why that was omitted?

  7. mantis says:

    @Jay Tea’s dimwitted puppet Jenos Idanian #13:

    Gee, I wonder what party he belongs to, and why that was omitted?

    He’s a Democrat, and everybody who reads the Chicago Tribune or knows anything about Illinois’s 2nd congressional district knows that no non-Democrat would ever be elected there. Nobody is confused about which party Reynolds or Jesse Jackson Jr. belong to, and there is no conspiracy to hide it, despite whatever the voices in your head tell you.

    There aren’t really any black Republican politicians in Illinois. Unlike in some states, people here see through their nonsense very quickly. Just ask Alan Keyes.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    You can’g make this $hit up.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Jenos Idiotian #13:

    Gee, I wonder what party he belongs to, and why that was omitted?

    Wow. You are right Jenos. I just read this article about Watergate and not once was the Republican Party referred to. I wonder why they were so circumspect of Nixon’s political affiliation?

  10. bill says:

    I’ll just have to assume he was a democrat as it doesn’t give us that info., but if he’s representing similar people who really cares anyway? you get what you vote for, well usually a little less.
    jr. could do time and they’d elect him again, just how it is up there.

  11. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: So, Ozark, your rebuttal to my comment about the American media is to cite an article from a British paper? Or did the “” at the end of the URL escape you?