Thursday, November 22, 2012

Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Resigns Amid Probe

Rep. Jackson Resigns Amid Probe, Concedes 'Mistakes'

Wall Street Journal

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., two weeks after winning re-election, resigned from office and confirmed he is the subject of a federal investigation.

Mr. Jackson, a Democrat, said in a letter Wednesday to House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) that he was resigning "effective today, in order to focus on my health." He also referred to a federal probe into his activities, saying in the letter that he was cooperating with investigators and doing his best to "accept responsibility for my mistakes."

The resignation comes after months of speculation about Mr. Jackson's future. He has remained out of the public eye since the spring, but he won re-election easily to Congress, representing a heavily Democratic district that includes parts of Chicago's South Side and the city's southeast suburbs.

The federal investigation, according to people familiar with the matter, is looking at possible misuse of campaign money to decorate Mr. Jackson's home. Messages left at Mr. Jackson's office seeking his comment weren't returned. On Thursday, his chief of staff, Rick Bryant, said he couldn't elaborate beyond what the resignation letter said.

People familiar with the matter said the investigation of Mr. Jackson has expanded to include his wife, Sandi Jackson, who is an alderman in Chicago. Ms. Jackson didn't respond to multiple phone calls seeking comment.

Mr. Jackson's resignation letter didn't provide details of the investigation, but he said he had made missteps that he described as "my mistakes and mine alone."

Lawyers for Mr. Jackson said Wednesday they hoped to negotiate a "fair resolution" of the matter under investigation, but that the process could take several months.

The resignation isn't related to any imminent action in the probe, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Jackson, 47 years old, was first elected in 1995. He was once seen as a rising star in Washington, looking to carry the activism of his father, civil-rights leader the Rev. Jesse Jackson, to the halls of Congress.

Mr. Jackson went on medical leave in June and was treated for bipolar disorder at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., his aides said.

Illinois law requires the governor to set a date for a special election within five days of a congressional seat becoming open. Mr. Jackson vacated his seat on Wednesday.

Prior to his election, Mr. Jackson was active in international civil rights, took part in the presidential campaigns of his father and then worked in the office of his father's Rainbow PUSH Coalition, an advocacy group supporting civil rights and social change. While in public office, Mr. Jackson co-wrote three books, two on financial literacy, and served on the House Appropriations Committee.

Prior to this investigation, Mr. Jackson had been investigated for alleged improprieties related to the probe of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a Democrat, who is now serving a prison sentence for corruption. Mr. Jackson has denied any wrongdoing in that case, and that probe has been dormant for months, according to people familiar with the matter.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) in a statement expressed sadness over Mr. Jackson's resignation, saying that "he presented a fresh perspective on how we work together to form a more perfect union."

—Susan Carey and Devlin Barrett contributed to this article.
Write to Mark Peters at and Naftali Bendavid at

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