Jesse Jackson Jr. scandal and mental health is forcing his resignation as Congressman

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"Jesse Jackson Jr"

Jesse Jackson Jr.  is resigning from his congressman position for the state of Illinois forwarding a letter of resignation  to House Speaker Jon Boehner, according to Associated Press.  Let us keep the Jackson family in our prayers during this difficult season that they are experiencing.

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“In 1995, when I was first elected to the House of Representatives I came to Washington with a singular purpose — to serve the constituents of the Second District of Illinois. During that time for seventeen years I have traveled on a journey with the people of the Second District of Illinois, and with their unwavering support we have worked together to transform what once was an underdeveloped and nearly forgotten South Side of Chicago.

Along this journey we have accomplished much. We have built new train stations, water towers, and emergency rooms. We have brought affordable housing, community centers and healthcare clinics to those that need it most. In all, nearly a billion dollars of infrastructure and community improvement has been made on the South Side of Chicago and thousands of new jobs have been created. We began this journey by promising fresh water for the people of Ford Heights and a new airport that would employ upon completion 300,000 people. Today the people of Ford Heights have fresh water and sitting on the Governor’s desk 400,000,000 proposal for an airport that will cost the taxpayers nothing and only awaits the Governor’s commitment to build it. And while our journey to strengthen communities and provide a better future for our children will continue, I know that together we have made the Second District of Illinois a better place.

For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service. However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish. Against the recommendations of my doctors, I had hoped and tried to return to Washington and continue working on the issues that matter most to the people of the Second District. I know now that will not be possible.

The constituents of the Second District deserve a full-time legislator in Washington, something I cannot be for the foreseeable future. My health issues and treatment regimen have been incompatible with service in the House of Representatives. Therefore, it is with great regret that I hereby resign as a member of the United States House of Representatives, effective today, in order to focus on restoring my health.

During this journey I have made my fair share of mistakes. I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone. None of us is immune from our share of shortcomings or human frailties and I pray that I will be remembered for what I did right. It has been a profound honor to serve the constituents of Illinois’s Second Congressional District and I thank them for their patience, their words of support and prayers during what has been, and what will continue to be a very trying time for me and my family.

I also thank my colleagues and staff for supporting me and the citizens of my district over the past several months. I am proud to have worked alongside each of them over these many years. I know that our work and accomplishments will have a lasting positive impact on our community and our nation.

With optimism and hope I look forward to the day when my treatment is complete and my health improves. I will truly miss serving as a Member of Congress and I will never be able to fully express my gratitude to the people of Chicago, and her Southland for granting me the opportunity to serve them for 17 wonderful years.

Sincerely,

Jesse Jackson,Jr.

Member of Congress”

CHICAGO (AP) — Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. quietly resigned Wednesday, effectively ending a once-promising political career months after the civil rights icon’s son went on a mysterious medical leave while facing separate federal investigations.

Just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth full term, Jackson sent his resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner, citing his ongoing treatment for bipolar disorder and admitting “my share of mistakes.”

The House Ethics Committee is investigating his dealings with imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and for the first time Jackson publicly acknowledged reports of a new federal probe believed to be looking into his possible misuse of campaign money.

“I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept responsibility for my mistakes,” he wrote, adding “they are my mistakes and mine alone.”

Jackson, 47, disappeared in June, and it was later revealed that he was being treated at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He returned to his Washington home in September but went back to the clinic the next month, with his father, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, saying his son had not yet “regained his balance.”

On Wednesday night, Jackson told reporters that his son resigned because he did not believe he could continue with his political career and try to regain his health at the same time.

“He made the decision to choose his health,” said Jackson.

The elder Jackson said that his son had wanted to hold a news conference to discuss his decision to step down but did not believe he could do so without “breaking down.”

He also said there is no way of knowing how long it will take for his son to recover from what he characterized as an “internal unresolved challenge.”

“It’s not the kind of illness you can put a timetable on,” Jackson said, adding that he is confident that his son “will get well in time.”

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Jesse Jackson Jr. first took office in 1995 after winning a special election in a largely urban and Democratic district and began his career in Washington with a star power and pedigree that set him apart from his hundreds of other House colleagues.

But despite high expectations, he largely went unnoticed as a policymaker. Instead, he gained a reputation for quixotic pursuits such as trying to impeach President George W. Bush and push through constitutional amendments that had no chance.

He attended an elite private school in Washington and earned a law degree and a master’s in theology. Over the years he bragged about spending his 21st birthday in jail after being arrested in an anti-apartheid protest, co-authored books with his father and developed his own a charismatic speaking style, with near perfect diction and often punctuated by finger pointing.

Shortly after taking office, he was deemed People magazine’s sexiest politician in 1997 and became one of the most outspoken and quoted liberals in the House. There was a near-Hollywood buzz over his newly svelte figure in 2005 when he quietly dropped 50 pounds, disclosing months later that he had had weight-loss surgery.

Perhaps his shining moment as a Democratic leader was in 2008, when Jackson served as the national co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. He had his sights set on U.S. senator or Chicago’s mayor.

Then came Blagojevich.

Though never charged, Jackson had to repeatedly dodge allegations that he was involved in discussions about raising campaign funds for the now-imprisoned former governor in exchange for an appointment to Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

Jackson — who testified at Blagojevich’s second corruption trial — always maintained that he was innocent and that his name would be cleared. Through the proceedings it was revealed that Jackson had an extramarital affair, something his wife detailed in a front-page newspaper interview.

The congressman kept a low profile for years, avoiding interview requests and public appearances.

It wasn’t until this year that glimpses of Jackson’s former self emerged. He was forced to campaign seriously for the first time in years when former Rep. Debbie Halvorson put up an intense primary challenge. He easily won and gave a triumphant victory speech with his wife and children by his side.

Neither Jackson’s family nor staff ever fully explained what was happening with the congressman’s health or if he’d return at all. A few times, staff seemed optimistic and so did voters in his Chicago-area district where he easily won re-election to a ninth full term this month despite, despite his only communication with voters coming through a robocall in which he asked for patience.

The timing of Jackson’s leave and the way it was handled invited more scrutiny. Jackson’s leave was announced just after a former fundraiser connected to the Blagojevich allegations was arrested on unrelated medical fraud charges.

The resignation left the House committee’s investigation in the air. Since Jackson is no longer a congressman, the panel no longer has the power to punish him but could release a final report detailing its findings. A committee spokesman did not immediately return a message on Wednesday.

Reaction to his resignation was swift.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that she’d spoke with both Jesse Jackson Jr. and his father Wednesday afternoon and accepted the news with “great sadness.”

Rep. Danny Davis, a fellow member of Congressional Black Caucus, said Jackson’s senior position on the House Appropriations Committee and his leadership would be missed. But he also said the way in which Jackson was leaving tarnished his image.

“It certainly does not leave his legacy untouched in as positive light as one would have hoped and wanted,” he said.

He declined to comment on the federal investigation, saying he had no details, but the issue did appear to resonate with some voters.

“It was time,” said retiree Gloria Pryor, who has voted for Jackson several times. “If he’s done the things he’s accused of doing then he should leave and apologize to the people of this community.”

The vacancy left by Jackson’s departure creates a rare opportunity for someone else to represent his district, which is made up of South Side Chicago neighborhoods, several southern suburbs and some rural areas.

Even before the resignation the gambit of potential successors floated around Chicago. Prominent Chicago attorney Sam Adam Jr., a onetime attorney for Blagojevich and R&B singer R. Kelly, said he’d be interested. Other names circulating are Chicago Aldermen Sandi Jackson and Anthony Beale, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle and Halvorson.

Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, has five days to schedule an election to replace Jackson, and the election must be held within 115 days, according to election officials. Quinn said he planned to schedule both a primary and a general election.

___

Henry C. Jackson reported from Washington. Associated Press Special Correspondent David Espo in Washington and Associated Press writer Sara Burnett in Chicago contributed to this report.

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