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Rev. Jackson: Congressman Son Is ‘Unwell,’ ‘Rebuilding His Strength’

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Rev. Jesse Jackson

Rev. Jesse Jackson (Credit: CBS)

Susanna Song Susanna Song
Susanna Song serves as a general assignment reporter for CBS 2...
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CHICAGO (CBS) — The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. said Thursday that his Congressman son is “unwell” and “rebuilding his strength,” but had little else to say on the subject.

As CBS 2’s Susanna Song reports, U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr.’s staff said Wednesday that he was suffering from a “mood disorder,” without providing any specifics.

Jackson’s aides initially said his leave of absence was the result of “exhaustion,” then later said he was suffering “certain physical and emotional ailments.”

But after rumors began to swirl that he was being treated for alcohol or substance abuse, Jackson spokesman Frank Watkins sent out an email denying those rumors, and stating his doctors are treating him for an unspecified “mood disorder.”

On Thursday, the Congressman’s father was at the Chicago Hilton and Towers for the annual convention of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

As usual, the Rev. Jackson was socializing and networking, but his demeanor wasn’t as chummy to reporters as usual, as he was likely trying to avoid questions about his son.

When those questions came, the Rev. Jackson offered few specifics. He reiterated that his son is sick, but also improving.

“The idea of not having him here in the middle of daily media speculation is a good thing,” Rev. Jackson said.

Along those lines, the Rev. Jackson spoke briefly about his son’s mood disorder, but did not refer to it directly.

“He is unwell. He is under medical supervision. He is rebuilding his strength,” the Rev. Jackson said. “We feel good about his regaining of his strength.”

On Wednesday evening, Rep. Jackson’s spokesman, Frank Watkins, cited an unnamed doctor in addressing the Congressman’s condition.

“Information regarding the Congressman’s treatment is protected by federal law under the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (“HIPAA”). The name of the attending physician and treatment center will not be disclosed in order to protect his continuing privacy,” Watkins said in an email.

“His physician makes the following statement: ‘The Congressman is receiving intensive medical treatment at a residential treatment facility for a mood disorder. He is responding positively to treatment and is expected to make a full recovery,'” Watkins added.

The Rev. Jackson did not offer any clues as to on what kind of disorder his son is battling or what triggered it.

Rep. Jackson has been under a lot of pressure. His former fundraiser, Raghuveer Nayak, was charged in a fraud scheme last month, and both their names came up in the Rod Blagojevich corruption trial – with allegations that Jackson had expressed interest in Blagojevich’s offer to sell President Barack Obama’s vacant U.S. Senate seat.

Rep. Jackson was never charged with a crime, but the Blagojevich connection prompted an investigation by a U.S. House ethics panel.

The Rev. Jackson advised against jumping to any conclusions about why his son has been absent since the beginning of June.

“We should not give our conclusion without adequate diagnosis and treatment, and we just hope that… we understand the interest in him, but I hope that the zone of privacy would be respected,” the Rev. Jackson said.

Meanwhile in the South Shore neighborhood, where Jackson lives and runs his office, his constituents were concerned and wished him well. But one woman, Pat Mosley, questioned the disorder.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what happens, but I personally think that it’s just all smoke and ruse,” Mosley said. “I think that it’s kind of something else going on, and I think they’re just trying to cover some stuff up.”

There are reports out Thursday morning that Rep. Jackson is receiving treatment at an Arizona facility, but that has yet to be confirmed by his family and staff.

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