Jesse Jackson Jr.'s resignation letter to House Speaker John Boehner acknowledges, for the first time, the federal investigation into his campaign. Mary Ann Ahern reports.
Embattled U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. (Ill-2nd) has resigned from Congress after nearly six months away, and just weeks after coasting to reelection.
Jackson Jr. resigned in a letter to U.S. Speaker of the House John Boehner, citing ongoing health concerns, and acknowledging a swirling federal investigation.
"For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service," he writes. "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 become 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."
Following the release of his resignation letter, Jackson Jr.'s legal team of Steptoe and Johnson, and Dan K. Webb, released a statement as well.
“Mr. Jackson is cooperating with the investigation. We hope to negotiate a fair resolution of the matter but the process could take several months. During that time, we will have no further comment and urge you to give Mr. Jackson the privacy he needs to heal and handle these issues responsibly.”
Jackson Jr.'s resignation, and this subsequent statement from his legal team, is less than shocking news. He hasn't made a public appearance since leaving congress on June 10 and seeking treatment for exhaustion. He ultimately received medical care at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for bi-polar depression and gastrointestinal ailments.
Perhaps more relevant, he has been the subject of a federal investigation into potential misuse of campaign funds since about the time he left office to seek medical treatment on June 10.
Federal authorities were investigating whether he used campaign funds to decorate his Washington D.C. home, among other things. Members of the FBI unit investigating him sent subpoenas to the financial institutions that handled his accounts.
He had scheduled a conference call with staffers for early Wednesday to inform them about his political future. But that call was canceled for fear that the media would join in.
It's not clear if his expected resignation is part of a plea deal he was reportedly working with federal investigators who were looking into some of his expenditures. But Jackson Jr. does mention the investigation in his letter.
"During this journey I have made my share of mistakes," he writes. "I am aware of the ongoing federal investigation into my activities and I am doing my best to address the situation responsibly, cooperate with the investigators, and accept the 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."
In a statement, Nancy Pelosi, the highest-ranking Democrat in the House, said word of Jackson Jr.'s resignation brought "great sadness."
"His service in Congress was marked by his eloquent advocacy for his constituents' views and interests. ... "Through his public statements and his writings, he presented a fresh perspective on how we work together to form a more perfect union."
This most recent investigation is not the only problem facing Jackson Jr. He's been under an ethics investigation in the House since 2009 that aimed to uncover his involvement in a Rod Blagojevich scheme to sell former senator Barack Obama's seat.
Jackson Jr. is the son of famous civil rights leader, Reverend Jesse Jackson, and he's married to Chicago politician Alderman Sandi Jackson.
Governor Pat Quinn now has five days to schedule a special election to fill the vacated seat, and the seat must be filled within 115 days.
"I think it's important to have a schedule of elections especially now, that's as economical as possible, that's done as quickly and fairly as possible, giving all those who want to run for the office a chance to conduct their campaigns," Quinn said upon hearing the news.
The constituents of the 2nd district will be without representation until the seat is filled.