Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. secretly returned to work, apparently last month, for a short time, according to Chicago’s WLS-TV.
This is the first revelation that Jackson has been well enough to conduct any public business since first being treated for bipolar disorder more than six months ago. According to his chief of staff, he also fired a top staff member during his brief return.
Jackson hasn’t been able to perform the official functions of a U.S. congressman since at least last spring, when he left the job and disappeared for weeks without any explanation of his absence. Right through his easy re-election last week, Jackson never campaigned or emerged to publicly answer constituent concerns about him being able to fulfill the terms of office.
On Friday, however, Congressman Jackson’s chief of staff Rick Bryant said that Jackson did indeed return to work for a time.
In an e-mail written three weeks ago to a staff member, Bryant stated, “As you may know, Congressman Jackson has been out of the public eye and away from Washington since the summer. Recently, however, he has had a small window of opportunity to look at a number of issues concerning this office.”
The e-mail was sent to Jackson’s director of community outreach, Change Hamilton-Hayyim, notifying her that the congressman himself had determined she should be terminated because she had been assisting an independent candidate running against him.
“This is the congressman’s final decision,” stated his chief of staff on Oct. 24, which was about the time Jackson checked back into the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for additional psychiatric treatment.
Where Jackson is right now is unclear; as is his political, personal and legal future. Federal authorities are looking at how the congressman and his wife, Alderman Sandi Jackson, spent money from his campaign account.
Bryant declined to comment Friday about Jackson’s brief return to work, when it was or why it ended. He said only that the e-mail stands on its own.