Rep. Luis Gutierrez and the Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke Tuesday about Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.'s extended, mysterious leave of absence. Phil Rogers reports.
Add. Rep. Luis Gutierrez to the list of lawmakers wanting more information as to what's ailing Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. and when he might return to service.
"Look, let’s not kid ourselves, he’s going to have to answer these questions," Gutierrez said Tuesday. "Why don’t we just know what it is?"
Gutierrez said that when his wife was ill and he took time away from office, he was totally forthcoming about where he was. And he noted that when Congressman Bobby Rush took a leave for cancer treatment, he also released full details about his condition.
"We all knew where to find him. We all knew he was convalescing. We prayed for him, and we knew what to pray for," the Democrat said.
Gutierrez said he wishes his fellow congressman well. But he suggested that he had waited to call for more details, and that the time had come.
"There’s coming a moment in which he’s going to need to say a lot more and be a lot more specific," he said.
Jackson’s office remained silent on the issue. During an appearance on NBC Chicago morning newscast on an unrelated topic, the congressman’s father deflected questions about his son’s health.
"As he comes out of his crisis, we’re with him," the elder Jackson said. "We’re with him, and we hope that he will be fully restored to his health. Right now, he’s going through a tremendous challenge."
Later, at a gathering at Operation PUSH, Jackson offered little more, only saying that his son was undergoing medical care, and "regaining his strength."
"We look forward to seeing him at some soon date," Jackson said. "He’ll give an account of how he’s recovering."
Asked how soon that might be, Jackson said, "that’s for his doctor to say." The Chicago Sun-Times reported late Tuesday that information from doctors could be coming "soon."
The congressman took his leave June 10. Since then, his office has offered little on his condition, first calling it exhaustion, then last week, saying the congressman’s ailments were more serious than first believed.
As he prepared to lead a noontime event about poverty and hunger, the elder Jackson did not disagree with a reporter’s question that his son constituents had a right to know their representative’s whereabouts. But he did not offer any information which might give them assurances that their representation in congress would resume any time soon.
“It is their right to know,” Jackson said. “And they will know. But in his state of regaining his strength he needs prayers from friends, not press releases.”