Unclear if Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. will return to Congress: friend

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 23, 2012 4:39 PM
Unclear if Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. will return to Congress: friend

By James B. Kelleher

CHICAGO (Reuters) - It is not clear if Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. will ever return to Congress, a friend and fellow congressman said on Tuesday after meeting Jackson, as the Illinois lawmaker returned to the Mayo Clinic for treatment of bipolar disorder.

Illinois congressman Danny Davis said Jackson was frail and emotional during the meeting on Monday at Jackson's Washington, D.C., home that also included Illinois congressman Bobby Rush.

Davis said there is a "strong possibility" Jackson, a Democrat who is expected to easily win re-election on November 6, will eventually return to Congress. Jackson has not appeared in public since the beginning of the summer.

"But if you had to bet on it, you'd probably want to stay out of it," Davis told Reuters. "You just can't tell. We don't know as much about mental health and mental illness as we need to know."

Despite his absence, a poll released on Monday found 58 percent of voters in his heavily Democratic Chicago-area district would vote for Jackson compared with 27 percent for his Republican opponent and 15 percent for an independent candidate.

Jackson, 47, who has served in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1995, told Davis he was heading back late on Monday to the Mayo Clinic, where he was treated earlier this year for bipolar disorder.

"I think this rest at the Mayo Clinic may be just what the doctor ordered and may be just what he needs," Davis told Reuters. "But you can't tell."

A statement distributed by Mayo Clinic said Jackson had returned to the Rochester, Minnesota, facility on Tuesday "for follow-up evaluation to ensure he is on the path to properly manage his health" and had asked for privacy.

"He and his family remain grateful for support and prayers offered and received on his behalf," the statement said. "No further updates are expected during the course of his stay at Mayo Clinic."

Jackson is the subject of a ongoing congressional ethics committee probe over an alleged bribe offered to imprisoned former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich by a Jackson supporter in 2008.

The alleged bribe was intended to entice Blagojevich into appointing Jackson to President Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat. Jackson has admitted to lobbying for the seat, but denied knowing about any money offered to Blagojevich, who was convicted on corruption charges.

According to news reports citing unnamed sources, Jackson Jr. is also being investigated by the FBI over possible misuse of campaign money. The FBI has not confirmed the reports.

Last weekend, Jackson told constituents in a recorded telephone message that he was "starting to heal" and "anxious to return to work."

"The good news is my health is improving, but my doctors tell me the road to recovery is a long one," Jackson said in the call.

The We Ask America poll surveyed 819 likely voters in Jackson's district on Sunday and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

(Additional reporting by David Bailey; Editing by Greg McCune and Eric Beech)