Don’t expect Jesse Jackson Jr. back in Congress: sources
BY NATASHA KORECKI Political Reporter firstname.lastname@example.org November 14, 2012 12:48PM
Alderman Sandi Jackson leaves her home in South Shore. Wednesday, November 14, 2012 | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Updated: December 19, 2012 11:54AM
Congress met Tuesday but U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was a no-show, a continued absence from his official duties that began June 10.
Several political sources close to Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday they no longer believe this is temporary — they do not expect Jackson to return to his position.
That’s after Jackson checked in and out of Mayo Clinic for bipolar depression as well as a revelation that he is under federal investigation, attempting to negotiate a plea deal and has hired one of the highest profile attorneys in Chicago — onetime U.S. attorney Dan Webb.
Still, members of the Illinois delegation did not bring up his name Wednesday when Democrats met on the first day of a lame-duck session.
“It’s hard to imagine him coming back at this point but I suppose anything’s possible,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill). “I think that this will be coming to a head very soon, it’s just my hunch as this is playing out… I’ll leave it to the voters of the district to figure out how that happens. I do think this will be coming to a head soon.”
Quigley noted that “every vote in Congress matters” particularly with the Fiscal Cliff issues that members are poised to tackle.
“I wouldn’t want to dash Jesse Jackson Jr. back onto the floor of the House until he was ready to be there,” said U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-Ill).
Asked whether the district had reached the point where Jackson needed to step down and a special election be held, Davis said: “I think we will get to that point. I don’t think, it’s pretty obvious we haven’t necessarily gotten to that point. Nobody can demand that the congressman do something. And there’s no such thing as recall in the state of Illinois. I think we have to wait. But I also think we have to give enough time.”
Gov. Pat Quinn said Jackson should address his constituents.
“I really feel he should address the people of his district about the situation and I think that’s the appropriate thing to do,” Quinn said.
When asked specifically if Jackson should step down, Quinn said, “Well I think he should address the people of his district and tell them what’s going on.”
The Sun-Times first reported last month that before Jackson left Congress in June, the FBI in the Washington D.C. field office had been investigating Jackson due to alleged “suspicious activity” of how he used his campaign funds. Sources said that the investigation has raised questions about to what extent his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) knew about the alleged improper activity. Sandi Jackson’s firm, Donatella & Associates, was paid about $100,000 over the last two years out of her husband’s campaign fund as a “consultant.”
Jackson’s most recent federal election disclosures show that his campaign committee paid $3,000 to Whitney Burns, a consultant sometimes described as a “political campaign bean counter” who specializes in federal election campaign compliance.
Reached Wednesday, Burns refused to talk about Jackson.
“The work I do is confidential. I just generally don’t discuss my work with reporters unless my client asks me to discuss (something),” Burns told the Chicago Sun-Times. “I have a policy going back 30 years not to discuss my clients.”
Last week, the Sun-Times reported that Jackson was attempting to negotiate a deal with authorities — something that was not disclosed prior to the Nov. 6 election when voters of the 2nd Congressional district overwhelmingly voted him back into office.
Webb could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. Tuesday announced he was no longer being housed at the facility. However, he continues receiving treatment for depression on an outpatient basis.
On Tuesday, Jackson was paid a visit by his father and mother but his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson, was in Chicago and appeared surprised by the news that her husband was released from the clinic.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times Wednesday he was not with his son.
“No, no, no I’m in New York. I’m in New York in a meeting,” he said before hanging up.
Jackson’s congressional office had no update.
U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez did not want to enter the fray: “Everybody said everything. What is there for me to say? I’m not a piling-on kind of guy. I’ve always liked Jesse and I wish him the best.”
Gutierrez, a vocal leader on immigration reform, became the veteran member of the Illinois delegation, having been a member for 20 years. Gutierrez said his aim is to have an immigration reform bill ready to go in January. President Barack Obama, in his first news conference Wednesday, mentioned immigration reform as a priority.
Contributing: Becky Schlikerman