Ald. Jackson Absent From Final City Budget Vote
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Updated 11/15/12 – 5:44 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) – Ald. Sandi Jackson (7th) — who reportedly is under investigation for possible improper campaign finance activities along with her husband, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. – did not show up for the City Council’s final budget vote on Thursday, two days after the congressman was released from the Mayo Clinic.
WBBM Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports few aldermen wanted to comment on Ald. Jackson’s failure to show up for Thursday’s key City Council meeting. Most aldermen asked about Jackson’s absence deftly sidestepped the issue of whether she should have attended the final budget vote.
Sympathy for Jackson reverberated throughout council chambers on Thursday.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore Reports
Ald. Patrick O’Connor (40th), the mayor’s floor leader, said the issue of attending council meetings is an issue between Jackson and her constituents.
“I think, to a great extent, many of us in the council here have great empathy for her, and great respect for her,” he said. “Frankly, we feel very bad what she’s going through, but in terms of when is it enough, or how much, … the decision has to be made between her and her constituents.”
Ald. George Cardenas (12th) said, “I support her, and there’s a reason why she can’t be here, and I’m okay with that.”
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports Mayor Rahm Emanuel wasn’t surprised Jackson didn’t attend Thursday’s council meeting.
“She did notify my staff that she would not be here,” Emanuel said.
The mayor didn’t seem to mind Jackson’s absence, expressing some sympathy for her and her ill husband, the congressman, both of whom who are believed to be under the federal microscope for possible misuse of campaign funds.
“It doesn’t take a lot to know that’s she’s balancing a lot, both as a mother, as a spouse, as a public servant,” he said.
Even though it was a crucial vote, Budget Committee Chairwoman Carrie Austin (34th) said she understands why Jackson couldn’t attend, saying maybe Jackson isn’t ready yet to face the public.
However, she said both Jackson and her husband are elected officials, “so with that being said, you Sandi have to address it on an aldermanic level.”
Ald. Robert Fioretti (2nd) said he understands why Jackson might be staying out of the public eye lately, but he said the Jacksons must say something soon.
“I hope the constituents stand up and say, ‘Hey, enough is enough.’ But at some point we all have to look at what’s happening. In my personal case, I tried to make every meeting, even though my doctors said I should be staying at home,” said Fioretti, who has battled throat cancer.
According to the Wall Street Journal, federal prosecutors in Washington, D.C., have begun investigating whether Ald. Jackson was complicit in any misuse of campaign funds. The feds reportedly already were investigating her husband for alleged misuse of campaign funds to decorate the Jackson family home.
Rep. Jackson has been on a leave of absence from Congress since June, and has twice checked into the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota, where he’s undergone treatment for bipolar disorder and gastrointestinal issues. Most recently, he was released from the clinic on Tuesday.
CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine has reported, according to a source close to the family, Congressman Jackson stayed in Rochester, Minn., with his parents after leaving the clinic, in order to avoid the cameras and reporters that have been staking out his homes in Chicago and D.C.