A cloud of controversy looms over U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. And the constituents of his 2nd Congressional District have not been provided with clear concise details about his absence/medical leave or the alleged eminent plea deal with the FBI.
However, there are some existing facts about Jackson’s situation in which the public can contemplate– at least until additional and truthful details emerge about the embattled congressman.
What we really know is that Jackson has not been to work for at least half of the year. We know that he has been on medical leave dealing with depression, bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal problems according to the Rochester, Minn. based Mayo Clinic.
We also know that Jackson has been in and out of the Mayo Clinic at least twice. We even know that before officially going on medical leave, Jackson missed several days of work and had been absent from his constituents without a detailed explanation.
There are other facts that can be listed about the ordeal besetting the veteran congressman who is said to be the Illinois delegation star. The chronological particulars play out this way:
Last spring, Jackson duked it out with long-time foe Debbie Halvorson, a former congresswoman, in a re-election campaign fight in the March 2012 primary but emerged victoriously and secured a spot on the November 2012 ballot.
By late spring 2012 Jackson would begin to miss days on the House floor which was rare for him, according to his colleague U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st).
Last summer at the Rainbow PUSH Coalition annual convention, Jackson’s mother, Jacqueline, hinted about a son who “jumped at” things that were “dangled” before him.
“These past few years he (Jackson) has had to deal with an enormous amount of disappointment. He thought he was gone be Senator. Then he thought he was going to have a chance to run for mayor, and young people don’t bounce back (from) disappointment like me and my husband. We don’t believe a darn thing until we see it,” said Jacqueline Jackson.
Then in August, Jackson officially announced he was on leave of absence. On Aug. 16, Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy made headlines by visiting Jackson at the Mayo Clinic. Kennedy, a friend of Jackson’s, has suffered from bipolar disorder and has been outspoken on mental health issues.
In October, the embattled Congressman Jackson contacted his constituents with comments about his illness by sending out a robocall. During the call Jackson asked his constituents for patience as he continued to recover. He also made it clear that he would not be returning to work anytime soon.
After a visit with Jackson last month U.S. Reps. Danny Davis (D-7th) and Bobby Rush (D-1st) told reporters at a press conference at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport that their colleague expressed concern for his family and a request for the voters in his 2nd Congressional District to be patient with him.
It seemed however that no one else in the congressman’s circle was talking– not about the illness or about the reported trouble with the feds. Instead, they formed a chorus of solidarity asking for the public’s patience, privacy and time to heal. His father, Rev. Jesse Jackson Jr. would only say that his namesake is “resting.”
On Election Day on Nov. 6, 2012 voters re-elected Jackson to another term in office.
Opponents and critics said that the way Jackson handled his absence from Congress was “unfair” to the people of the district and suggested that he step aside as congressman to take time to heal from his bipolar depression diagnosis. Obviously though, voters proved that they had the last — and only — say in the matter and Jackson thanked them for that.
“My deep and sincere thanks to the people of the 2nd Congressional District. I am humbled and moved by the support shown today. Every day I think about your needs and concerns,” Jackson said in a written statement. “My family and I are grateful for your prayers and kind thoughts. I continue to feel better every day and look forward to serving you.”
Allegedly, Jackson is said to be negotiating with the FBI on a plea-bargain deal which would result in his resignation and exit from congress and possible jail time as punishment for misusing campaign funds to remodel his home in Chicago and to buy gifts for a mistress. Again, these statements are not facts—they are simply hearsay. The “real deal” about Congressman Jackson is yet to be determined.
By Larissa M. Tyler
Rhonda Gillespie contributed to this report