Aides to House Speaker John Boehner are confirming they have received a letter of resignation from Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. The Congressman has been on medical leave since June and is under federal investigation for misusing campaign funds. As Katie reported earlier today, “He has also been investigated for being caught up in the Rod Blagojevich saga and is suspected of trying to help sell President Obama's former U.S. Senate seat.” According to the Washington Post, “It has been rumored in recent weeks that he would resign as part of a plea deal.”
His resignation means he will not be sworn in for the term he won in November. Despite not having actively campaigned for it, Jackson comes from a safe Democratic district and was easily reelected.
The resignation will trigger a special election for his seat, which will be declared by Gov. Pat Quinn (D) and must occur within 115 days of the vacancy.
Among the names being mentioned for the special election are Jackson’s wife, Chicago Alderwoman Sandi Jackson (D), Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly (D), state Sen. Toi Hutchinson (D) and state Sen. Napoleon Harris (D), former football player at Northwestern University and in the NFL.
Also being mentioned is former congressman Mel Reynolds (D-Ill.), who resigned the seat that Jackson won in a 1995 special election and was convicted on charges of child pornography and sexual misconduct with a 16-year-old campaign worker.
The seat should easily stay in Democratic hands. It went 82 percent for President Obama in 2008.
Update: The letter:
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.
Member of Congress