Jesse Jackson Jr. takes medical leave for ‘exhaustion’
BY ABDON M. PALLASCH AND LYNN SWEET Sun-Times Media June 26, 2012 12:10PM
U.S. Rep Jesse Jackson Jr. (pictured in October 2011) | Charles Dharapak~AP
Updated: June 26, 2012 8:37PM
Exhausted and, according to a friend, fighting to save his marriage, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. announced Monday he’s been on a previously undisclosed medical leave of absence for the past two weeks.
“I know he has been under a lot of pressure,” said a Jackson friend in Washington, D.C. “He’s been fighting really hard to save his marriage. And he had a tough election. There’s been a lot of stuff.”
The cause for his leave was said to be “exhaustion,” according to Jackson’s office, which has sent out at least 16 press releases — many quoting Jackson — in the two weeks since he dropped out of sight.
The Jackson friend, who saw him in early June at the Capitol, said he looked withdrawn and distracted, not his usual self.
Jackson, 47, cast his last vote in Congress on June 8. He has missed the votes since. No date has been set for his return.
“We missed him last week and kind of figured he may have been exhausted,” said U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, also a Chicago Democrat. “We knew that he at one time had some medical attention a few years ago, and so it does not surprise me.”
Last time Jackson was suffering from exhaustion, he sought refuge and recharged his batteries at the California home of supermarket magnate Ron Burkle, a source said. Jackson’s current location wasn’t disclosed — and colleagues said they didn’t know.
A late Monday afternoon press release was the first public word of his leave. The statement was brief.
The son of the famed civil rights leader is facing a congressional ethics investigation concerning allegations tied to the Rod Blagojevich corruption case.
Just last week, a fund-raiser in the middle of the Jackson saga — Raghuveer Nayak — was arrested by federal authorities in an unrelated alleged fraud scheme.
Jackson was already on his leave by then, and his attorney, Paul Langer, said the leave has nothing to do with the Nayak case.
“I can tell you unequivocally it is unrelated to the arrest of Mr. Nayak,” Langer said.
For the last several years, Nayak has been the aching thorn in Jackson’s side after Blagojevich was heard on tape saying that Jackson’s emissary — Nayak — offered what Blagojevich believed was a $1.5 million offer in exchange for the Senate seat that was about to be vacated by Barack Obama following his 2008 election as president.
Jackson has repeatedly and vehemently denied he authorized anyone to approach Blagojevich on his behalf. Jackson has not been charged in the probe.
Contributing: Natasha Korecki, Dan Mihalopoulos, Mark Konkol