Representative Jackson Needs ‘Extended Treatment’

U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.
Representative Jesse Jackson Jr., a Democrat from Illinois. Photographer: Joshua Roberts/Bloomberg News

U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. needs “extended in-patient treatment,” and his medical condition is “more serious” than initially thought, the Illinois congressman’s office said today.

“Recently, we have been made aware that he has grappled with certain physical and emotional ailments privately for a long period of time,” according to an e-mailed statement today from Jackson’s office. “At present, he is undergoing further evaluation and treatment at an in-patient medical facility.”

There were no additional details in the statement on the condition of Jackson, a Democrat who represents Chicago’s south side and some suburbs, or where he is being treated. His office said on June 25 that he had started a medical leave on June 10 because he was suffering from exhaustion.

Jackson, 47, who is more than halfway through his ninth term in Congress, has faced political and personal stress as he fended off a primary challenge in March from former Representative Debbie Halvorson.

The House Ethics Committee confirmed in December that it was conducting an inquiry into whether Jackson had improperly lobbied then-Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich for appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama in 2008 after his election as president.

Associate Charged

One of the figures at the center of the alleged scheme, Chicago businessman Raghuveer Nayak, was arrested on June 20 on unrelated federal charges that alleged he paid bribes and kickbacks to doctors for patient referrals, according to a statement by the U.S. Department of Justice.

In its 2009 report released Dec. 2, 2011, the Ethics Committee wrote that there was “probable cause to believe” that Jackson either “directed” Nayak to raise campaign money for Blagojevich in exchange for appointment to Obama’s Senate seat or knew that “Nayak would make such an offer.”

In a telephone interview today, Dan Schwager, chief counsel and staff director for the ethics panel, declined to discuss the status of the inquiry. He said the statement in December was the last time the panel had publicly commented on the matter.

Nayak alleged to federal investigators that Jackson had him pay to fly a female “social acquaintance” of Jackson’s from Washington to Chicago at the congressman’s request, the Chicago Tribune has reported. Jackson, a son of civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson, said in a 2010 statement that the situation was a “private and personal matter between me and my wife that was handled some time ago.”

Defense Witness

His wife, Sandra Jackson, is the alderman of Chicago’s Seventh ward. Her office was closed today in observance of Independence Day, according to a recording on the ward office’s answering machine.

Representative Jackson appeared as a defense witness for Blagojevich in May 2011, when he testified that he didn’t raise money for any candidate except himself. Jackson denied any wrongdoing and said that Blagojevich, when running for governor, asked for a $25,000 contribution and that Jackson said no.

Blagojevich was found guilty in June 2011 of 17 of the 20 counts against him, which included wire fraud, attempted extortion, bribery, extortion conspiracy and bribery conspiracy. He was sentenced Dec. 7 to 14 years in prison.

Representative Danny Davis, a Democrat who represents Chicago’s west side, said in a telephone interview today that he hoped Jackson would be well soon and “back in the saddle.”

“I’m sorry to hear as it appears to be a little more serious than perhaps they had thought,” said Davis, adding that he hasn’t spoken to Jackson recently.

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