Though he hasn't sent out a campaign mailer, video or spoken in public in months, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has spent about the same amount of money in his campaign to hold onto his seat as others in competitive re-election fights, records show.
Included in his expenditures are fees paid to a political consulting business owned by his wife, Chicago Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th).
"For the last four months, his wife is still getting $5,000 checks from the campaign, where during those months he's in the hospital," said Jackson's Republican challenger, Brian Woodworth.
Jackson faced a primary challenge but has been absent from work since June. Doctors say he's being treated for an ongoing medical condition.
"It's obviously legal but it does raise ethical questions when you take campaign contributions from donors and you give them to your own wife, a family member, for work that may or may not be getting done," said Andy Shaw with the Better Government Association.
Records show Jackson has also spent about $8,000 at a Downer's Grove office furniture store.
The owner of Arthur P. O'Hara Inc. told the Chicago Tribune the FBI plans to subpoena records of furniture purchases by Jackson’s campaign.
A look at Jackson's campaign expenses since 2011 shows he's spent $1 million, about the same as Rep. Judy Biggert, who's spent $1.1 million and Rep. Bob Dold, who's spent $1.6 million, in their competitive races. That's well above the roughly $300,000 each that Reps. Luis Gutierrez, Danny Davis and Mike Quigley have spent the past two years.
Independent challenger Marcus Lewis had a direct message to Jackson's current constituents.
"Don't vote for a ghost. Do not vote for someone that is not showing up for you anymore. It's like Elvis has left the building," he said.
An attempt to reach Jackson's campaign for comment was unsuccessful.