PUBLISHED: 22:44 EST, 25 June 2012 | UPDATED: 23:22 EST, 25 June 2012
Off sick: Jesse Jackson Jr has been on leave for two weeks with ‘exhaustion’
Mystery surrounds scandal-hit congressman Jesse Jackson Jr as his office revealed yesterday that he has been on ‘medical leave’ for two weeks.
A spokesman said the Illinois representative was being treated for exhaustion, but said he did not know when Mr Jackson would return to work.
News of his illness came as a surprise, as his office has repeatedly sent out press releases quoting him and his Twitter account has been active even while he has been on leave.
In a three-sentence news release, Mr Jackson’s office disclosed that the Democrat went on leave on June 10 but did not provide further details.
‘I don’t know how long he’ll be out of action,’ said Frank Watkins, Mr Jackson’s spokesman, adding that he could not offer additional details.
Several of Mr Jackson’s congressional colleagues noted his absence last week on the House floor, where he missed votes.
The statement said Mr Jackson’s offices will remain open for constituent services.
Since June 10, the congressman’s office has sent out news releases featuring quotes from him. His Twitter page has remained active, including two tweets on Monday about the Affordable Care Act.
Earlier this year Mr Jackson, 47, faced a primary challenge from former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson and campaigned more actively than in previous years.
Since then, the veteran Democrat has been promoting a third Chicago area airport and campaigned against a proposed federal detention center for illegal immigrants.
Family: Mr Jackson, right, with his father Jesse Jackson, the civil rights activist
Mr Jackson, son of famed civil rights campaigner and Baptist minister Jesse Jackson, first won office in 1995 and represents Illinois’ 2nd District, which includes neighborhoods on Chicago’s South Side and in its south suburbs.
There is a House Ethics Committee probe into his behaviour involving allegations that Mr Jackson was involved in discussions about raising money for then-governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich’s campaign in exchange for Blagojevich appointing him to President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat.
Mr Jackson also allegedly directed a fundraiser and longtime friend, Raghuveer Nayak, to buy plane tickets for a cocktail waitress described as Mr Jackson’s ‘social acquaintance.’
He has since called it a personal matter that he has dealt with privately with his wife, Chicago alderman Sandi Jackson.
Last week, Nayak was arrested and pleaded not guilty to unrelated fraud charges involving outpatient surgery centers he owns.
At Blagojevich’s first corruption trial in 2010, prosecutors said another fundraiser was ready to testify that Mr Jackson instructed Nayak to raise money for Blagojevich’s campaign in exchange for the Senate seat. The same witness later testified that he attended a meeting with Mr Jackson and Nayak.
Mr Jackson has not been charged. He has repeatedly denied wrongdoing and insists he will be vindicated.