Jesse Jackson Jr. may not return to work until after election, wife says
BY FRAN SPIELMAN City Hall Reporteremail@example.com October 3, 2012 11:38AM
Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson at his election night party on March, 20, 2012. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
Updated: November 5, 2012 11:31AM
Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) raised the possibility Wednesday that her ailing husband, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., may not return to work until after the Nov. 6 election — and may not personally address his constituents before they go to the polls.
“He is on the ballot. He is going to stay on the ballot and I’m looking forward to him coming back to work after his re-election,” she said.
“No last-minute switcheroos. He would never do that and I would never want that for him. I strongly believe in the democratic process. When I ran for alderman five years ago, I ran because I believe it’s important to give individuals a voice. They need to have a say in who their elected representatives are. I know that Jesse believes that firmly as well.”
She added, “He is anxious to come back. He wants very much to continue to serve. He right now has a leadership post and, if we are fortunate enough to regain the House, he would be in line to be a major appropriator.”
Jackson said her husband is “still holding on and seeing his doctors two to three times a week” as he continues the long road back from bipolar depression.
“We’re hopeful this process will get better as time goes by. . . . His energy is up and so, we’re prayerful that it’s gonna stay up,” she said.
But Sandi Jackson said it was entirely up to doctors to determine when her husband would be cleared to return to Capitol Hill.
What about voters who want to hear directly from Jesse Jackson Jr. before the election — either in person or by video like the recordings Sen. Mark Kirk has made during his long recovery from a stroke?
“I hope that he will be able to do that. I know that he is anxious to do so. But he is also under doctor’s orders to stay very calm, very quiet, and he is going to do that,” she said.
“I would only ask for patience. Jesse has been a great legislator for the past 17œ years. He takes it very seriously,” she said.
Sandi Jackson also talked for the first time about her decision to sell the couple’s $2.5 million Washington D.C. town house to defray mounting medical bills.
“We have Blue Cross Blue Shield, but it does not cover mental health issues. . . . Even if you have, what some people consider to be a Cadillac plan, it does not cover it. And that’s unfortunate,” she said.
But Blue Cross Blue Shield contradicted Jackson. In a statement, it said it offers a “wide range of mental health benefits that are in full compliance with federal laws and with standards set by the Office of Personnel Management.”
As for the decision to yank the real estate listing from public view days after it appeared and sell the home privately, Sandi Jackson said it was done for security concerns.
“We’ve got folks who started coming up to the house without representation who were scaring my children because they were coming . . . without any desire to buy but really just to come and look-see,” the alderman said.
“For my children, who were there with my mom alone [or] at times with Jesse, it was just too frightening and I could not put my children’s safety in jeopardy,” she said.
Rep. Jackson has been on a leave of absence since June 10, initially issuing a statement saying he suffered from exhaustion.
He announced the leave two weeks after he started it. The public statement came at 5 p.m. on the day of the filing deadline for challengers to the seat he has held since 1995. Jackson was recently released from the Mayo Clinic, where he was treated for a bipolar disorder.
Since 2008, Jackson has been dogged by a scandal involving jailed former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who had the power to appoint the next U.S. senator when Barack Obama was elected president. Jackson remains under investigation by a House ethics panel.