He paid to play, now he raises $ for city council

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Detroit businessman Chris Jackson who once admitted under oath to trying to buy a councilwoman's vote, is now raising money for members of council. 

Dozens of local officials and business people were convicted of public corruption in an investigation that ultimately sent former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick to prison.

But many of the people who paid to play remain free  and some are still raising money for politicians.

The holidays are a season for giving, so it probably shouldn't shock you that a politician wants you to give her some dough. What you may find surprising is who she's using to raise that campaign cash.

ML Elrick:  "What should Detroiters think when they see someone who tried to bribe a councilwoman now raising money for a councilwoman?"

"From my understanding and I'm not going to get into the details of the case," said councilwoman Mary Sheffield.

Elrick: "I have them right here if you'd like. I have the testimony.  He says 'Was there any doubt in your mind Mr. Jackson you were paying Mr. Riddle for Monica Conyers' vote?' He says 'no.'

"What should Detroiters make of this?"

You hear it said all the time in city hall, the devil is in the details. Well, the details Detroit city councilwoman Mary Sheffield doesn't want to know about involve Chris Jackson.

"Whatever happened in the past, I think he has moved on, and since then he has served the city with honor," Sheffield said.

Jackson is a Detroit developer.  He's also a city official, serving as treasurer of the Detroit Building Authority Commission. In his spare time, Jackson helps raise money for politicians, politicians like Mary Sheffield.

Elrick: "He's also someone who had admitted under oath in a federal trial that he tried to buy a councilwoman's vote. Does that concern you at all?"

Sheffield: "No."

Elrick: "How come?"
"He's one of several hosts on my committee," Sheffield said. "And again he has served as a host for several elected officials in the city and state for the last 18 years. Again, he has served the citizens of the city since I've been elected. He's done an outstanding job. I'm honored to have him as a host."

Jackson is one of 10 people hosting Sheffield's second annual "Tis the Season" fundraiser. While some folks are asking you to give Toys for Tots, these cats are asking you to give politician lots of money. For example, pay $100 and you can be a "Caroler." It costs $250 to hit the "Mistletoe" level and you can be "Yuletide" for $500.

Chris Jackson isn't the only guy who paid to play who Sheffield has been caught with. Last year we saw Sheffield posing with Rayford Jackson.

Rayford Jackson is not related to Chris Jackson - but they have something in common: they both tried to buy former councilwoman Monica Conyers' vote.

Sheffield is not concerned about Jackson's past, but the same can't be said of long-time political consultant Sam Riddle.

"As one who wallowed in the cesspool of corruption, I can tell you this, and that is that Mary Sheffield has to be very careful who she surrounds herself with," Riddle said. "Because it's like the siren call who lured the ships to the rocks and sinks them in Greek mythology tales. These guys are very slick. they're slicksters."

WEB EXTRA: Get more from Sam Riddle on how Detroit politicians can get influenced by political fundraisers It is part of M.L. Elrick's new Ch. 10 project. WATCH IT HERE

Riddle encountered Jackson while working in that cesspool of corruption.

Riddle was an aide and adviser to city councilwoman Monica Conyers when Jackson says Riddle told him it would cost $25,000 to get Conyers to vote for a Deja Vu downtown.

As you can see in Deja Vu's own video, it might offend more than a few church folk. The year was 2006, and Jackson was hoping to make some money putting ATMs in Déjà Vu's clubs.

The owners of Deja Vu said they didn't want to pay Riddle for Conyers' vote. But Jackson decided on his own to give Riddle's company a check for $10,000 and a check for $15,000.

A few years later, Jackson was given immunity to testify at Riddle's public corruption trial. When the prosecutor asked: "Was there any doubt in your mind, Mr. Jackson, you were paying Mr. Riddle for Monica Conyers' vote?" Jackson, under oath, answered "no."

Elrick asked to meet with Jackson, but all he sent was a statement that said, in part:

"Nearly 10 years ago, Mr. Jackson became one person in a long line of people who were victimized during an era marked by political corruption in the city. He was a witness for the federal government in their successful prosecution of several people. Chris Jackson's courage, cooperation and testimony helped end public corruption in the city."

Back in the day, Elrick wrote more stories about public corruption than anybody in Detroit, and he never got a call from Jackson. Maybe he misplaced the number.

Despite Jackson's testimony, Riddle's trial ended with a hung jury. Riddle later pleaded guilty in another public corruption trial, admitting that he extort bribes for Conyers. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

"Detroit knows, political insiders in particular know, who and what a Chris Jackson is," Riddle said. "The smart ones smile, even shake his hand and keep steppin'. The problem is when you pause with Chris Jackson. And how long do you pause, and how he pimps your political office for his well-being."

Jackson was a major fundraiser for Benny Napoleon's failed 2013 campaign for mayor of Detroit. And Jackson's spokesman says Jackson has hosted fundraisers for many elected officials -- including Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones and councilman Scott Benson.

Elrick: "What does it say about our elected officials that right after coming through this period of corruption that the people who were corrupting people still have access to our leaders?"

"You know what it says is that the more things change, the more things don't change," Riddle said.

Jackson says he was a victim and testified that he felt like he was shaken down. When his clients said they didn't want to play ball, Jackson went forward anyway. He testified that he didn't want to miss the opportunity to make a lot of money with Deja Vu.

Chris Jackson Testimony