CHICAGO – Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who handily won re-election last week despite being on medical leave since June, has left the Mayo Clinic, a spokesman for the hospital said Tuesday.
Mayo Clinic Spokesman Nick Hanson told theGrio Tuesday “Jesse Jackson Jr. is no longer a patient at Mayo Clinic,” and that he didn’t have any additional information on his whereabouts or the state of his condition.
In early June, Jackson Jr. had reportedly been receiving treatment for depression and gastrointestinal issues at the Rochester, Minnesota-based hospital, until his release in early September. Between early September and late October, Jackson Jr. was convalescing in his Washington D. C. home where he saw doctors twice a day. He returned to the Mayo Clinic at that time to undergo more tests, his father, civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, told theGrio.
Asked about Jackson Jr.’s release, his Washington D.C. spokesman Frank Watkins said he wasn’t aware of Jackson Jr.’s release ahead of time. “I know nothing,” Watkins told theGrio. “I found out by the news.”
Last week, lawyers for Jackson Jr. were reportedly in plea deal talks with federal prosecutors who are investigating him for possible misuse of campaign funds. This includes charges that Jackson Jr. used campaign funds to redecorate his Washington, D. C. home, and possibly buy a $40,000 Rolex for a female friend.
Jackson Jr.’s wife, Chicago’s 7th Ward Alderman Sandi Jackson, is also under federal investigation for criminal charges that she assisted her husband in using campaign funds to redecorate their Washington D.C. home, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
Watkins said he knew no details about a plea deal either. “If it’s going on, it’s going on far away from this office,” he said about a possible plea bargain.
Neither Jackson has pleaded guilty yet. CBS News reports that top criminal defense attorney Dan Webb, who struck a plea deal for the late Illinois Rep. Dan Rostenkowski in the 1980s, is negotiating a plea bargain for Jackson Jr. that may be reached by the end of the year.
According to the report, some jail time is expected for the Illinois Congressman. The tentative deal includes Jackson Jr.’s resignation for health reasons, a “guilty” plea to the charge that he misused campaign funds and repayment of funds used for his personal use, CBS News said.
Webb is also negotiating Jackson Jr.’s pension, “which would pay out between $65,000 and $80,000 a year when he turns 62,” according to the report.
A cloud of investigation has paved the road to a win of 63 percent of votes cast during the 2012 election for the embattled congressman. A House Ethics Committee continues to look into Jackson Jr.’s supposed involvement in trying to be appointed to now-President Barack Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate.
CBS Chicago reported Thursday that Jackson Jr. was talked out of resigning from his seat before election, but part of the reason why he reconsidered was so he wouldn’t lose his federal health insurance when he needed it most.
Dick Simpson, a political science professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago and a former Chicago alderman, said of Jackson Jr. not resigning before the election, “it’s not in his advantage to resign his seat before because he’s in a stronger position to plea bargain as a sitting congressman. Once he’s no longer a congressman, he has no power.”
If Jackson Jr. did plead guilty to the misuse of campaign funds or go to trial and was found guilty—which has not yet been confirmed—he would have to resign from his newly re-elected Congressional seat and a special primary and election would have to be held to fill the vacancy.
Renita D. Young is a Chicago-based multimedia journalist. Follow her on Twitter @RenitaDYoung.