The once-promising political career of Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. came to a crashing end Wednesday, when the Illinois Democrat announced he would resign his seat in Congress amid treatment for mental illness, stories of marital infidelity and a pair of federal investigations.
The Illinois Democrat, the son of the civil rights icon, has been mostly missing from the House since June. Jackson Jr., 47, has been under federal investigations for alleged involvement in campaign finance improprieties as well as his involvement in imprisoned former Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell President Barack Obama’s U.S. Senate seat.
At the same time, Jackson retreated out of the public eye and into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where he was treated for bipolar disorder, according to doctors. He briefly returned to Washington, but quickly left, as reporters staked out his DuPont Circle home.
Now, just weeks after winning reelection to his South Side Chicago seat with more than 60 percent of the vote, Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn must schedule a special election. His seat would remain vacant until then.
It’s a tragic end for a once highly promising political career. At different times, Jackson considered running for Senate and toyed with running for mayor of Chicago.
Jackson, whose wife Sandi is a Chicago alderman, was a close ally of Obama in the Senate and during his first run for president.
Jackson Jr., who was first elected in 1995, sent a letter to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) saying he will resign, an aide to Boehner said. Jackson Jr.’s office hasn’t responded to requests for comment.
Despite Jackson’s prolonged absence from public life, he won reelection to his South Side Chicago district with more than 60 percent of the vote.