The investigation of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. for possible misuse of campaign funds has expanded to include his wife's conduct, which has become a subject in continuing plea negotiations. Barry Pollack said political spouses often become key players in corruption probes.
"Often, the government knows they have a potential case against the spouse, but it may not be the strongest case," said Mr. Pollack, who has represented elected officials caught up in criminal or ethics investigations but has no information about the Jackson case. "That can give the government a lot of leverage because presumably it's important for the [lawmaker] to protect his spouse."
The prospect of potential charges against a political spouse can also deprive a defendant of a key witness, because the threat of such charges may eliminate a potential explanation for the alleged wrongdoing, he said.