Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. heading back to the Mayo Clinic for re-evaluation
CHICAGO – In a whirlwind of a week, where embattled U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. faced accusations of misusing campaign finances, reports surged of him bar-hopping and he gave his first public message in four months, his father, the Reverend Jesse Jackson says he’s headed back to the Mayo Clinic for more tests this week.
“He must go back now for an update, a re-evaluation as to what his status is,” the civil rights leader and former presidential candidate told theGrio Sunday. He did not give a specific day on when his son would return to the Rochester, Minnesota-based clinic, or say whether he would be re-admitted.
Jackson Sr. said that he could not give a timeline on when his son would recover and get back to work, but did say he was “struggling with his own desire to get back to his work, which… seems to be premature if he does not have strength to handle that challenge.”
In a robocall to constituents Saturday, Jackson Jr. said, “I am anxious to return to work on your behalf. But at this time, it’s against medical advice. And while I will always give my all to my constituents, I ask you to continue with your patience as I work to get my health back.”
When the Congressman will return to work “has not yet been determined,” the elder Jackson said. This week’s visit is “a re-evaluation of his status and that will then determine what should happen.”
Jackson Jr. said in late June that he took a leave of absence for treatment of exhaustion, however his congressional office later confirmed that he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder. His office said on Sept. 7th that he had been released from the Mayo Clinic and would be recovering at his Washington, D.C. home, but not returning to work. According to the elder Jackson, Jackson Jr. had been seeing doctors twice a day since his release.
After more than four months of silence, Jackson asked constituents for patience and said he’s “anxious to return to work,” in a robocall to his 2nd Congressional District Saturday, but he gave no timeline on when he’d get back to work. This was the first time many of Jackson’s more than 500,000 constituents had heard from him since taking his leave of absence in June.
Jackson’s wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, and his representatives have repeatedly said he will continue to run for re-election in the 2nd District. With less than three weeks until election day, Jackson hasn’t campaigned yet, but political analysts say he is a shoo-in to win in the heavily Democratic district that he’s served for nearly 18 years.
Last week, Jackson was accused of misusing campaign money and drinking with women who weren’t his wife at a Washington, D.C. bar. Additionally, Jackson’s message came just days after the Illinois congressman told The Daily he is “not well” in his first interview since he undertook an extended leave of absence.
Adding to his already high level of public scrutiny, a House Ethics Committee continues to look into Jackson’s supposed involvement in trying to be appointed to now-President Barack Obama’s seat in the U.S. Senate, reported NBC Chicago. Jackson has admitted he wanted to be appointed to the Senate, but has repeatedly denied allegations he sent emissaries to offer campaign cash to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for the seat, the report said.
Opponent and Republican 2nd Congressional District candidate Brian Woodworth urged his supporters to pray for the Congressman, but said the district needs a voice. Furthermore, he insists that Jackson is not up to the task.
If Jackson were to be re-admitted to the Mayo Clinic, “this demonstrates, again, he is not getting better and it’s another indication that says he’s not going to be ready to serve, even when January comes around,” Woodworth told theGrio Sunday.
In a statement released on his website in response to Jackson’s robocall, Independent candidate and opponent Marcus Lewis questioned whether the recording was Jackson.
“Is this the actual voice of Congressman Jackson or is this an actor?” Lewis questioned in a statement on his website Saturday. “Someone should do a voice analysis. There is no proof,” Lewis said.
Calls to Jackson’s campaign and Congressional representatives were not immediately returned.
Renita D. Young is a Chicago-based multimedia journalist. Follow her on Twitter @RenitaDYoung.