According to the latest development in what some might call the political mystery of the summer is that Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, who has been out of commission since June 10, could leave the Mayo Clinic, where he is being treated for depression and gastrointestinal issues, in a matter of weeks. The news, reported by the Associated Press, comes as speculation and scrutiny continue to swirl around the lawmaker's absence.
Rick Bryant, an aide in Jackson's Chicago office, told AP that the congressman's condition appears to be improving and that he has directed him to reach out to mayors for updates on district projects. Bryant also said that Jackson could leave the clinic in three weeks but the ultimate decision will be made by his doctors.
"He's been in touch over the weeks. This was the most engaged he was," Bryant said. "He seemed like his old self."
But lawmaker's wife, Alderman Sandi Jackson, suggested that the timing is still very up in the air in part because his medical team is still determining the right medication.
"At this point, we are taking every day one day at a time," she said. "But we here on the ground are preparing for his eventual return. We don't know when that's going to be, but we want his constituents to know that they are very much on his mind."
However, on Wednesday she told the Chicago Sun-Times that September is her "hope."
The New York Post reported earlier this week that Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. was making plans to replace his namesake with his youngest son, Jonathan, an allegation the civil rights leader has denied.
“The Reverend and Mrs. Jackson have an agenda that may not be Jesse Jr.’s … return to Congress,” an unnamed source told the publication. “The reverend is getting older and less and less relevant and he wants his legacy to live on in his son Jonathan. He doesn’t control Jesse Jr., who’s very much his own guy. He thinks he’ll have more weight with Jonathan in the position.”
Questions also have been raised about the timing of Jackson's sudden illness because of an ethics investigation into whether he was involved in discussions with Illinois' imprisoned former governor Rod Blagojevich about exchanging money for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by then-President-elect Barack Obama. Political scientist Dick Simpson told NBC Chicago that when he does return to his duties, Jackson may face censure, a public rebuke, by the House.
"I don’t think they can expel him, throw him out of the congress at this point, based on what we have in evidence, but, I think censure is certainly likely. So, those are heavy problems to be dealing with, for any individual.”
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(Photo: AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)