Congressman’s Absence Fuels Curiosity and Allegations

Credit: Olivier Douliery / Abaca USA[/caption]

Illinois Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. has been missing from Congress since June. According to Jackson, he has been undergoing treatment for bi-polar disorder — a revelation that was admitted two months after his initial absence. The diagnosis came at the heels of the House Ethics Committee’s investigation into Jackson’s alleged role in the “pay-to-play” scheme, hatched by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to sell off Barack Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder.

Jackson’s woes have only escalated, as the Congressman’s absence fuels curiosity and allegations. Recent reports have claimed that Jackson had been drinking on two separate occasions, each time with a different woman, after his diagnosis and discharge from the Mayo Clinic. There have also been claims that Jackson used campaign cash to renovate his Washington home. The allegations came to light after the Jacksons had listed the property for sale in order to pay for Jackson’s mood disorder treatment.

Jackson has remained out of the spotlight since his initial absence. It is believed that the Representative for Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District will lie low until after the November 6th election. Victory is all but guaranteed for Jackson, even as he faces criminal and ethical investigations. In his first public statement since the ordeal, Jackson released the following automated message to the heavily democratic south Chicago district, stating in part:

“For nearly 18 years I have served the people of the second district. I am anxious to return to work on your behalf, but at this time, it is against medical advice, and while I will always give my all to my constituents, I ask for your continued patience as I work to get my health back.”

Jackson refrains from making a direct appeal to voters, opting instead to say that he is “human” and that he is “starting to heal.”

“The good news is my health is improving, but my doctors tell me the road to recovery is a long one.”

The congressman has offered no timetable for his return. His opponents — Republican Brain Woodworth, independent Marcus Lewis, and write-in candidate Rev. Anthony Williams — have called for Jackson to drop out of the race.

“As we wait for the congressman to return, we have no voice,” Woodworth said. “And if Jackson is re-elected, we will continue to have no voice.”