CHICAGO -- A showy red cape drew more bids than framed autographs of Michael Jackson or Bruce Lee as a government auction of more than a dozen items forfeited by former congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. got underway Tuesday.
The online auction, which will accept bids over two weeks at www.txauction.com, is the U.S. Marshals Service way of trying to recoup part of the $750,000 in campaign funds the Chicago Democrat and his wife, Sandra, illegally spent -- often on attention-grabbing clothes and pop-culture keepsakes.
Three hours after the auction began, the red cashmere cape with fur trim had already drawn 34 bids, tripling the initial asking price to $905; court documents say Jackson purchased it for $1,500 from an Edwards Lowell Furs store. A Bruce Lee autograph had just four bids, the highest of which was $350.
Calculating existing bids for all 13 items as of Wednesday, the feds looked to rake in more than $5,000 from the Jackson auction. Dozens of other frivolities he spent his donors' money on, including two stuffed elk heads and a football signed by U.S. presidents, aren't part of this auction.
The Jackson items aren't the oddest the Marshals Service has sold off to help pay felons' fines or court-mandated restitution. The underwear of convicted Wall Street fraudster Bernie Madoff was once auctioned by the same Texas-based company.
Within the next several months, Jackson Jr., the 48-year-old son of civil rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a one-time golden boy of Democratic politics, must leave his two school-aged kids and enter a federal facility to begin serving a 2 1/2-year term for to scheming to spend campaign funds on himself and his wife. The same federal judge who sentenced Jackson last month also imposed a year-long sentence on his wife.
-- The Associated Press