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CHICAGO (CBS) – Constituents in Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr.’s district have gone without representation on Capitol Hill for more than five months, and the head of the Better Government Association said Wednesday that they might have go go without a congressman for several more months, thanks to Jackson’s ongoing health and legal problems.
“His political career is over,” said BGA President and CEO Andy Shaw said.
CBS 2 reported last week that Jackson’s defense attorney, former U.S. Attorney Dan Webb, has been negotiating a plea deal with federal prosecutors looking into possible misuse of campaign funds. The deal would call for at least some jail time and require Jackson to repay any campaign funds spent on personal use, but would allow him to resign for health reasons and keep his pension.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger Reports
Jackson has been on a leave of absence from Congress for more than five months while he’s undergone treatment for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. He has twice been admitted to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, most recently being released from the clinic on Tuesday.
WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports Shaw said, if Jackson had to resign, Gov. Pat Quinn would have 150 days to set up a special election to fill Jackson’s seat in Congress.
“The people in the 2nd Congressional District may, at the end of the day, have been without Congressional representation in Washington for almost a year,” Shaw said.
The last special election for Congress in Illinois was in 2009, when Rahm Emanuel left his seat in Congress to become President Barack Obama’s chief of staff. Former Cook County Commissioner Mike Quigley won the election for Emanuel’s seat in the 5th Congressional District and has since been re-elected twice.
Shaw said there could be truth to a Wall Street Journal report that federal prosecutors have also begun investigating whether Jackson’s wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), was complicit in the possible misuse of campaign funds to redecorate the Jackson home.
However, Shaw said it’s unlikely she’d face federal charges, since the government tends not to prosecute a husband and wife at the same time in cases where they have young children.