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Michael Jackson Visits Congress

March 31, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Upbeat despite being snubbed by the Congressional Black Caucus, Michael Jackson took a break from his legal troubles in California to confer with several leading black lawmakers Tuesday about his upcoming mission to help fight AIDS in Africa.

Flashing a victory sign, the conservatively dressed Jackson didn’t answer questions from reporters after meeting with several members of Congress, but released a statement directed at the black lawmakers.

``What I want you to know is that whatever I can do to assist you in your fight I will do,″ Jackson’s statement said.

Jackson, in town to accept an award for his work helping fight AIDS overseas, met privately with several black members of Congress in the office of Rep. Chaka Fattah, D-Pa., to talk about his AIDS work. He is planning a trip to Africa later this year, said Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga.

Fattah called him ``one of the leading celebrities in the world who has actually used his celebrity status to help people.″

Jackson wanted to meet with the full 38-member Congressional Black Caucus at its Wednesday meeting, but leaders turned him down, saying they were too busy dealing with legislative issues affecting black Americans.

But several caucus members, speaking on conditions of anonymity, said there was no upside politically for them to link their name to Jackson by holding a high-profile meeting with him. They also noted that Jackson has never donated any money to their causes and has never asked to speak to them before now.

Jackson was charged last year with seven counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts upon a child under age 14 and two counts of administering an intoxicating agent to the child. Jackson has pleaded innocent. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Friday.

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