CHICAGO (CBS) — A day after Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. left his second stint at the Mayo Clinic, a source close to the Jackson family said the congressman was still in Rochester, Minn., in an effort to avoid the spotlight.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine reports Jackson has apparently ended all treatment at Mayo, although he’s still in Minnesota, staying with his parents.
Evidence of the thickening plot in the Jackson family saga came when his wife, Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th), was spotted leaving their South Shore, while her children were in Washington, D.C., with her mother, and her husband was in Minnesota with his parents – Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. and his wife, Jacqueline Jackson.
Sources said the Congressman was deliberately staying away from cameras staking out his homes in Chicago and D.C.
A second Mayo news release in as many days explained Jackson “is no longer a patient at Mayo Clinic. He departed Tuesday, Nov. 13. Although he is no longer a current patient, he will remain under the care of physicians as part of his ongoing treatment.”
However, a Mayo spokesman said Jackson is now “neither an in-patient nor an outpatient,” as some have reported, and is no longer being treated by Mayo physicians in Rochester.
Jackson twice checked into the Mayo Clinic, where he was treated for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. His first stay lasted more than a month from late July through early September; his second stay started in late October, until he checked out on Tuesday. Between those two stays, he was convalescing at his home in D.C. He’s been on a medical leave from Congress since June.
But Jackson’s health concerns, at this point, might be secondary to his legal troubles. His defense attorney has been negotiating a plea agreement with federal prosecutors investigating alleged misuse of campaign funds to decorate the Jackson family home.
Examining his campaign finance reports, CBS 2 found the fund’s unitemized credit card bills – paid with no explanation of what they were for – were at least four times greater than the credit card bills for any other Chicago area congressman.
The Jackson campaign’s unitemized credit card bills have totaled $186,000 this year alone, compared to just $45,000 for fellow Democrat Jan Schakowsky, $27,000 for losing Republicans Bob Dold and Judy Biggert, and only $1,700 for Democrat Mike Quigley.
Democratic Congressmen Bobby Rush and Luis Gutierrez, at the other extreme, itemized every dime they spent.
Better Government Association President and CEO Andy Shaw said, “When you have all of this unaccounted-for money, there’s a chance that the money is going to places it’s not supposed to go – perhaps to decorate homes in Washington, D.C. – and if that’s what’s happening, you have a very clear example of what this federal investigation is all about.”
Representatives at the Federal Elections Commission — which oversees campaign funds at the national level — said failure to itemize that level of spending by a campaign fund is highly unusual; in fact, they said they’ve never seen it before.
The feds, of course, have access to those itemized credit card bills. But a source familiar with the negotiations said there’s still disagreement between the feds and Jackson’s criminal attorneys over which bills were proper and which were not.
Once the two sides agree, the plea bargaining will pick up steam.