Jackson Resignation to Trigger Special Election Next Year
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., on Wednesday submitted a letter of resignation from the House to Speaker John Boehner, saying he needs to focus on restoring his health.
"For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service," Jackson writes in the letter. "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."
Jackson has been absent from Congress for months while he underwent treatment for bipolar disorder. He did not make public appearances during the campaign, though he easily won reelection in his heavily Democratic Chicago district.
But Jackson has also been under investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds, and earlier this month it was reported that a plea deal would likely include his resignation from Congress and potentially jail time.
"During this journey I have made my share of mistakes," Jackson continued in the letter. "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 responsibility for my mistakes, for they are my mistakes and mine alone."
Jackson's resignation means Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn must call a special election to take place within 115 days in the state's Second District. The seat is expected to remain in Democratic hands; Jackson won around 63 percent of the vote earlier this month without formally campaigning. Windy City Democrats are expecting a large field of candidates, potentially including former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who was defeated by Jackson in a primary earlier this year. Jackson's wife, Chicago Alderwoman Sandi Jackson, is also reportedly interested; city officeholders will be able to seek the seat without risking their current jobs.
Jackson has served in the House since 1995.