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House Ethics Committee resumes probe of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 10:  Rep. Jesse JacksJr. (D-IL) addresses news conference U.S. Captiol December 10 2008 WashingtDC. Jackshad been

WASHINGTON - DECEMBER 10: Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL) addresses a news conference at the U.S. Captiol December 10, 2008 in Washington, DC. Jackson had been mentioned as a potential replacement for the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (C), who has the power to fill the vacant Senate seat, was arrested at his Chicago home yesterday and charged with corruption after prosecutors said he was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

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Updated: November 20, 2011 8:59AM

The U.S. House of Representatives Ethics Committee has taken its investigation of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. off “hold,” the committee announced Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Justice had requested the committee hold off its investigation of Jackson during its prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich because Jackson was on the witness list.

Jackson did testify in Blagojevich’s retrial, and Blagojevich was convicted on 17 of 20 counts, including the charge that he hoped to profit by appointing Jackson or someone else to Barack Obama’s vacated U.S. Senate seat.

Jackson was never charged in that case. And the fact that the Justice Department has ended its request for the Ethics Committee to defer its investigation may mean that Jackson is in the clear. But no one from the Justice Department, the U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago, or Jackson’s office is commenting on that.

In 2009, the House Ethics Committee said it was investigating whether Jackson used public resources — in the form of his Chicago and Washington, D.C., staffs — to vie for the appointment to the Senate seat.

“Rep. Jackson may have violated federal law and House rules concerning the proper use of the member’s representational allowance,” the panel indicated.

The committee voted Thursday to “end the deferral” of the investigation.

“The Committee will announce its course of action in this matter on or before December 2, 2011,” Tuesday’s news release said.

Jackson’s Democratic primary opponent, former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“The House Ethics Committee’s decision to look into possible ethics violations by Representative Jesse Jackson, Jr. is proof that he continues to be plagued with distractions over his possible role in Rod Blagojevich’s pay-to-play scandal involving President Obama’s former Senate seat. We should have a Representative that is focusing on job creation and economic development for our district — not on ethics investigations.”

Jackson’s spokesman declined to comment.

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