Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a once-rising political star who has been on a months-long mysterious medical leave for bipolar disorder while facing separate federal investigations, resigned from Congress Wednesday, citing his health problems.
Jackson’s resignation, just two weeks after voters re-elected him to a ninth full term, comes amid a House Ethics Committee investigation into his dealings with imprisoned ex-Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and reports of a new federal probe into possible misuse of campaign money.
“For 17 years I have given 100% of my time, energy and life to public service,” Jackson wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner. “However, over the past several months, as my health has deteriorated, my ability to serve the constituents of my district has continued to diminish.”
Jackson, the eldest son of the civil rights leader, has been on medical leave since mid-June and has been treated twice at the Mayo Clinic for bipolar disorder.
At the same time, Jackson was the subject of two separate investigations of wrongdoing.
The U.S. Justice Department was investigating allegations that Jackson, 47, misused campaign funds to redecorate his house and buy an expensive watch for a friend.
Local news reports have said possible Democratic candidates include Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly, state Sen. Toi Hutchinson and state Sen. Kwame Raoul, who holds the legislative seat once held by Obama.
Unless Jackson is convicted of a felony that would prevent him from collecting his congressional pension, he would be entitled to about $45,000 in annual benefits when he turns 62, according to Pete Sepp, executive vice president of the National Taxpayers Union.