Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., D-Ill., submitted his resignation to House Speaker John Boehner today, just a little more than two weeks after easily winning re-election.
Jackson's resignation comes amid an FBI investigation into his alleged misuse of campaign funds. The congressman is reportedly in negotiations with the federal government over a plea deal that could include jail time. Jackson has also been struggling with his health. He spent four weeks at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota over the summer in treatment for bipolar depression and acknowledged last month that he is "not well."
"For seventeen years I have given 100 percent of my time, energy, and life to public service," Jackson wrote in his resignation letter to 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... The constituents of the Second District deserve a full-time legislator in Washington, something I cannot be for the foreseeable future. My health issues and treatment regimen have become incompatible with service in the House of Representatives."
Jackson cited some of the highlights of his 17-year congressional career, such as working with the community to build new train stations, water towers, and emergency rooms. However, he also acknowledged that "[d]uring this journey I have made my share of mistakes."
"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 wrote.
Under Illinois law, when a congressional vacancy occurs, there must be a special election within 115 days to fill the seat.
In spite of his problems, Jackson won re-election in Illinois' second district, which he's represented since 1995, with 63 percent of the vote. He has not, however, made any public appearances or returned to his Capitol Hill office since Election Day. The congressman was, but it was reportedly cancelled.
The FBI investigation has been looking at Jackson's alleged use of campaign funds to decorate his home and to buy a $40,000 Rolex watch for a female friend. The investigation into misused campaign funds has now expanded to include Jackson's wife, Chicago Alderman Sandi Jackson, according to reports. Investigators are scrutinizing whether Mrs. Jackson was aware of or complicit in her husband's alleged misuse of campaign money. Investigators have not yet indicated whether they plan to charge Sandi Jackson.
Jackson Jr.'s attorney, Dan Webb, according to Chicago CBS affiliate WBBM, has been negotiating a plea deal that would allow Jackson to resign for health reasons, serve some jail time for the misuse of funds, repay any funds used for personal purposes, and retain his congressional pension.