Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s (D-Ill) mysterious leave of absence from Congress has many on the Hill wondering what could be keeping the Congressman away from his duties in Washington for such a long period. Now a presumed ally, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill), is asking Jackson to provide greater detail regarding his ailments and what is keeping him from fulfilling his congressional duties.
Last week Rep. Jackson’s office released a statement that the Congressman would be taking an extended leave. Jackson had already been absent from Congress for three weeks when his office released a vague statement about Rep. Jackson’s condition. The statement gave no detail on what was ailing the Congressman or his whereabouts. When last week’s statement was released, the congressman had already been absent for three weeks.
Initially his office said “exhaustion” was behind Jackson’s initial absence, but just last week Jackson’s office informed members of Congress that his medical condition had worsened and he would not be returning to Capitol Hill for some time. The statement read:
“Congressman Jackson’s medical condition is more serious than we thought and initially believed. Recently, we have been made aware that he has grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time. At present, he is undergoing further evaluation and treatment at an in-patient medical facility.”
Although Sen. Durbin expressed concern for Jackson and his family at a press conference in Chicago, according to Crain’s Chicago Business on Monday the Senator publicly called on the Congressman to further explain what was behind this extended leave form Congress:
“As a public official, there comes a point when you have a responsibility to tell the public what’s going on,” Mr. Durbin said. Mr. Jackson “will soon have to make a report on the physical condition he’s struggling with.”
Jackson has been under a cloud of suspicion after a House Ethics Committee found that there was reason to believe Jackson raised money for now disgraced former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich in a deal to buy the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President Barack Obama. The report also found that Jackson violated federal law and improperly used his Congressional staff to campaign for the Senate seat.
Rod Blagojevich was sentenced to 14 years in prison last year after he was found guilty on 18 corruptions charges, including trying to use his power as Illinois governor to sell President Barack Obama’s seat.
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